Breast cancer screening

Breast cancer screening

What is breast screening?

NHS breast screening checks do a mammogram (test with X-rays) to look for cancers in your breasts.

It is important to remember that screening will not prevent you from getting breast cancer but aims to find early breast cancers.

Why is breast screening important?

Mammograms can find cancers that are too small to see or feel – ones that you may not notice when checking your breasts. Having a mammogram therefore means that any cancer found is detected in its earlier stages, giving you a higher chance of successful treatment.

Who is eligible for a breast screening?

You’ll automatically get your first invite for breast screening between the ages of 50 and 53. Then you’ll be invited every 3 years until you turn 71.

You can book an appointment as soon as you get your letter.

What happens during your screening?

During breast screening you’ll have 4 breast X-rays (mammograms), 2 for each breast. The mammograms are done by a specialist called a mammographer who will be female.

  • The mammographer will place your breast onto the X-ray machine. It will be squeezed between 2 pieces of plastic to keep it still while the X-rays are taken.
  • The X-ray machine will then be tilted to one side and the process will be repeated on the side of your breast.
  • The process is then repeated for your other breast.

The mammograms only take a few minutes. The whole appointment should take about 30 minutes.

If you miss your appointment, call 020 3758 2024 or email [email protected] to reach the West London branch and a time.

Screening results

Your results will be sent to your home address within 2 weeks. You will be advised of any expected delays at the time of your screening.

No signs of breast cancer

Your breast screening result letter may say that your mammogram shows no sign of breast cancer. You will not need any further tests and will be invited again in 3 years for the same routine procedure.

Further tests needed

Your results may say further tests are needed. This does not necessarily mean that you have breast cancer. You will be given an appointment which could include:

  • More mammograms
  • Ultrasound scans of your breast
  • Biopsy (taking a small sample of breast tissue)

Following that appointment, you will then hear back from the clinic with either a dismissal or a diagnosis. If you are diagnosed with cancer, you will be referred to start the treatment process.