Screening programme: Early detection of breast cancer

General information

Since 2014, Austria has had a national, quality-assured programme for the early detection of breast cancer with low-threshold access (automatic activation of the e-card). In addition to the mammogram, an ultrasound examination is also included in the screening programme. Participation in the early detection programme is not mandatory.

Procedure

As part of the breast cancer early detection programme, all women with social insurance in Austria between the ages of 45 and 69 are invited to have an early detection mammogram every two years. The women concerned are automatically sent a reminder letter regarding the examination. The invitation letters are sent out by the coordination body of the Austrian Breast Cancer Early Detection Programme. The address can be obtained from the relevant health insurance provider.

Advice

Women between the ages of 45 and 69 can also arrange an appointment at a participating radiology institute for early detection mammography every two years, simply by using the e-card, without the need to be referred by a doctor.

Women in this age group who do not have insurance, as well as younger women over 40 and women over 70, can also request an invitation from the telephone service line on 0800 500 181. Would-be participants can also register to take part online via the following link (→ früh-erkennen) German text.

The invitation contains a list of the certified radiologists in each federal province. You can also contact the telephone service line on 0800 500 181 and visit → früh-erkennen.at to find any relevant addresses throughout Austria. Mammogram appointments can be made directly with the selected X ray facility.

It is possible to nominate a trusted doctor (e.g. gynaecologist or general medical practitioner) to the radiologist. This doctor can than discuss any questions about the breast cancer early detection programme before the examination and can also be contacted to discuss the results.

Organisation

The Austrian Breast Cancer Early Detection Programme is run centrally via a coordination body, which is based at the Austrian health insurance fund. It is funded by the federal government, the provinces and the social insurance fund.

Quality criteria for the examination

Breast examinations are subject to full quality assurance. For every mammogram, diagnosis is made according to the dual control principle and independently by two radiologists. Furthermore, all doctors taking part in the programme must adhere to strict quality criteria, e.g. special advanced training diplomas and a minimum number of examinations per year. Defined requirements are also set for the technical equipment used by the radiology institutes, stating that only low-radiation, digital mammography devices may be used.

Objectives of the programme

  • Mobilising and informing the programme’s target groups
  • Early detection of breast cancer in a non-invasive or non-metastatic stage
  • Improved chances of cure and use of more gentle therapies
  • Increasing the proportion of breast-conserving operations
  • Minimising unnecessary medical interventions thanks to a standardised and quality-assured clarification procedure
  • Reduction of the breast-cancer mortality rate

Further links

Translated by the European Commission
Last update: 1 September 2021

Responsible for the content: Federal Ministry of Social Affairs, Health, Care and Consumer Protection