Breast Cancer: Screening Program

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Breast Cancer: Screening Program
Breast Cancer: Screening Program

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Breast Cancer: Screening Program

The new Austrian breast cancer screening program started in 2014. It brings more quality to mammography examinations and a nationwide invitation system. For the first time in Austria there is a systematic and standardized breast cancer early detection program. Mammography (X-ray examination of the breast) is currently considered to be the most reliable method of detecting breast cancer at a very early stage, which increases the chances of recovery and survival.

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  • Strict quality criteria
  • What can women expect from the screening program
  • The sequence
  • The goals
  • organization

With the new breast cancer early detection program, all women between the ages of 45 and 69 with social insurance in Austria are invited to an early detection mammography every two years. Even uninsured women in this age group as well as younger women from 40 years and women from 70 years and older can take advantage of the program at their own request and request an invitation. Participation in the early detection program is voluntary. The program replaces all previous offers for early detection mammography.

Note For women between 45 and 69 years of age, it is also possible every two years to simply go to a participating radiology institute for an early detection mammography with the e-card by making an appointment.

Strict quality criteria

Comprehensive quality assurance for breast examinations is new to the breast cancer early detection program. An early diagnosis examination - like any medical measure - has advantages and disadvantages. Quality assurance is particularly important in order to have the greatest possible advantages and few disadvantages. Every mammography is assessed independently by two radiologists according to the four-eyes principle. Furthermore, all doctors participating in the program must prove that they have met strict quality criteria right from the start, for example special advanced training diplomas and a minimum number of examinations per year. The technical equipment of the radiology institute must also meet defined requirements; only low-radiation, digital mammography devices may be used.The strict quality requirements of the early detection program ensure that radiation exposure is kept as low as possible.

The structural and organizational quality criteria developed in the course of the early detection program will apply to all breast examinations in the future - including breast examinations outside the program if there is a suspicion of disease. The quality criteria are intended, among other things, to increase the detection rate of breast cancer.

What can women expect from the screening program

Every woman should personally evaluate the advantages and disadvantages of an early detection examination, weigh them up on the basis of her own life situation and decide for herself whether to participate. What can the participants of the program expect?

  • Most likely, after the mammography exam, you will receive a message that everything is fine. The majority of women do not have breast cancer or are not suspected of having breast cancer.
  • Some women find the waiting time for the test result very stressful, others less. In order to keep the waiting time as short as possible, a written report will be sent within seven working days after the mammography examination has been carried out.
  • The aim of the screening for early detection is to detect breast cancer as early as possible in order to be able to treat it as best as possible. The therapies can usually be carried out more gently. Surgery on a tumor detected at an early stage almost always preserves the breast.
  • Mammography in quality-assured programs is currently the most reliable method for the early detection of breast cancer. However, it can happen that you get an abnormal finding, although after further examinations it turns out that you do not have breast cancer ("false positive result"). Neither the most experienced radiologists nor the best equipment can prevent this. In rare cases, mammograms and ultrasound examinations will not detect a tumor even though breast cancer is present. This is called a "false negative finding".
  • Cancer types that are growing particularly rapidly can develop in the period between two screening examinations. One speaks of a so-called interval carcinoma. It is therefore an advantage to be informed about the possible signs of breast cancer so that you can contact a doctor immediately if you suspect it.
  • Mammography screenings also reveal tumors that would otherwise never have become noticeable. At the time of diagnosis, it is unfortunately not possible to predict how a tumor will develop. Therefore, all tumors discovered must be treated - from a medical point of view.
  • Most professionals assume that a quality-controlled screening program has more advantages than disadvantages. However, early detection cannot prevent breast cancer from developing.

The sequence

If you are between 45 and 69 years old = ", you will receive an invitation to a mammography examination every other year. The Austrian Breast Cancer Early Detection Program coordination office sends out the invitation letters. Your health insurance provider will give you your address. With the invitation letter you can go straight to the mammography after making an appointment - without a doctor's referral. However, you can also simply go to one of the participating radiology institutes for early detection mammography with the e-card. An appointment is also necessary here.

With the invitation you will receive a list of the certified radiologists in your federal state. All Austria-wide addresses can also be requested from the telephone service line on 0800 500 181 and on the Internet at www.frueh-erkennen.at. If you decide to participate, you can make an appointment for a mammography directly with your chosen X-ray facility.

If you are between 40 and 44 years or 70 or older, you can request an invitation from the telephone service line on 0800 500 181. A web opt-in (registration to participate via the Internet) is also available for women from 40 to 44 years of age and from / over 70 years of age.

There is an option to inform the radiologist about a doctor you trust (e.g. gynecologist, general practitioner). You can discuss questions about the breast cancer early detection program with this medical examiner before this examination or contact them to discuss the findings.

The goals

The goals of the new breast cancer screening program are:

  • Mobilizing and informing the target groups of the program,
  • Early detection of breast cancer in a non-invasive or metastasis-free stage,
  • Improvement of the chances of healing and the use of gentler therapies,
  • Increase in the proportion of breast-conserving operations,
  • Minimization of unnecessary medical interventions through a standardized and quality-assured clarification procedure as well
  • lowering breast cancer mortality.

organization

The Austrian breast cancer early detection program is managed centrally via a coordination office, which is located in the Austrian health insurance company. Financing is provided by the federal, state and social security agencies. The quality standards were developed by Gesundheit Österreich GmbH on the basis of the recognized European guidelines.

Further information (including multilingual information material, short film about the program, etc.) can be found on the official program website and on the website of the Ministry of Health.

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