STEP 1: Prevention and early detection

Risk factors

See the optimal care pathway for people with breast cancer for a comprehensive list of risk factors for developing breast cancer.


Recommendations that may assist in preventing breast cancer include the following:

  • Maintain a healthy weight.
  • Avoid or limit alcohol intake.
  • Get regular exercise.
  • Avoid or limit use of hormone replacement therapy.
  • Consider additional prevention strategies in people with increased risk (e.g. gene mutation carriers).

Individual risk assessment will help guide additional prevention strategies.

Risk reduction

For women with an increased risk of breast cancer, anti-hormonal risk-reducing medication lowers risk. Women at very high risk may consider risk-reducing surgery.

Risk assessment tools

Assessing a patient’s personal breast cancer risk will help guide appropriate strategies.

Validated computerised breast cancer risk assessment tools that estimate a woman’s breast cancer risk include:

Screening recommendations

  • Breast awareness
  • BreastScreen Australia offers 2-yearly mammographic screening targeted at asymptomatic women aged 50–74 (although women over age 40 can attend on request).
  • A doctor’s referral is not required for this screening, but a GPs’ encouragement is a key factor in participation.

Women invited to screening must be informed of the risks and benefits of mammographic screening.