She has had many mammograms and ultrasounds over the years, but in September Kristine Hewett experienced breast tenderness and sought extra peace of mind by spending $500 on an MRI scan of her ''lumpy breasts''.
The MRI detected a small cancer that the mammogram and ultrasound had missed and the 47-year-old IT project manager underwent surgery in October and began radiotherapy the next month - declaring the MRI to be the best $500 she has spent.
Specialist radiologist Jeremy Price, who read the scan that detected Ms Hewett's cancer, said there was growing international awareness around the limitations of mammography in younger women and those with dense breast tissue in particular.
Ms Hewett lost her mother to breast cancer in 2001 - six years after her initial diagnosis. Before that, she had little concern about breast health.
''Obviously that changed when my mother was diagnosed and I began getting annual regular checks with my GP,'' she said.
Ms Hewett said she had been told by her doctors that her dense breast tissue made it more difficult for a simple mammogram to detect any dangerous changes, and she had also undergone ultrasounds. Extra tenderness following her clear mammogram and ultrasound in June made her seek her GP's opinion and she was referred for an MRI.
''Fortunately, it was very small and early, and I am incredibly grateful that I took that extra step,'' she said.
Her biggest concern is that the $500 cost for MRIs could be prohibitive for many other women in her situation. Scans do not receive a Medicare rebate unless women are under 50 with a strong family history of breast cancer or they are carrying the faulty BRCA gene.
"I would really like this service to receive a Medicare rebate or some government support for women who want to be really vigilant about their breast screening, given how crucial it is to identify cancer early on," Ms Hewett said.
Like Ms Hewett, 49-year-old former security manager Stephanie Norris received a clear mammogram despite having early breast cancer.
Her mother's advice to get a second opinion after the first mammogram helped save her life. "Always listen to your mum is the moral of my story," she said.
At the start of the year Ms Norris noticed a lump high on her right breast. A GP referral for a private mammogram showed no sign of cancer, but her mother said the lump needed to be dealt with and Ms Norris went to another GP who ordered a fine needle biopsy, confirming cancer in April.
"My message is to go and get a second opinion if you feel something isn't right and to get screened through a variety of methods," Mr Norris said.
She said she was not anti-mammogram - a school friend had
recently sought a mammogram on her advice and found she, too, had early breast cancer. ''I've taken another friend in to have hers done - the more screening that takes place the better and the more we talk about breast cancer awareness the better.''
For 79-year-old Patricia Howard, routine mammograms since her 50s had been part of her health routine. But she was also scrupulous about regular self-examination and at 65 discovered a lump.
She will never forget when much-loved breast cancer surgeon John Buckingham, who died in 2011, put two scans up on his light box. The mammogram showed nothing but the MRI revealed a spot of cancer.
Ms Howard considers herself a ''very lucky survivor'' and continues to undertake a range of breast screening, including both MRIs and mammograms.
''I'd always trust myself finding a lump over anything else,'' she said. ''It's just so important to know your own breasts and my message is that women can save their own lives if they take notice of any changes.''