Breast Screening (Mammogram)
Breast screening is important as it helps to find breast cancer before you notice any signs or symptoms.
Regular breast screening is one of the best ways to spot a cancer that is too small to feel or see.
Breast screening saves around 1,300 lives each year in the UK.
Finding cancer early can make it:
more likely that treatment will be successful
less likely you'll need to have a breast removed (mastectomy)
more likely you'll be cured
You can have breast screening whatever size or shape your breasts are.
Screening does not stop you getting breast cancer, but it is the best way to spot cancers at an early stage.
How breast screening is done
Breast screening is usually done by 1 or 2 female mammographers. You can ask them about any questions or concerns you have.
You'll need to undress, in a private changing area, so you are naked from the waist up. You may be given a hospital gown to put on.
You'll be called into the X-ray room and the mammographer will explain what will happen.
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. This takes a few seconds and you need to stay still. Your breast will be taken off of the machine afterwards.
The X-ray machine will then be tilted to one side and the process will be repeated on the side of your breast.
Your other breast will be X-rayed in the same way.
You will then return to the changing area to get dressed.
Your results will be sent to you in the post.
When you'll be invited for breast screening and who should go
Anyone registered with a GP as female will be invited for NHS breast screening every 3 years between the ages of 50 and 71. You'll get a letter in the post inviting you.
When you'll be invited
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.
If you're a trans man, trans woman or are non-binary you may be invited automatically, or you may need to talk to your GP surgery or call the local breast screening service to ask for an appointment.
You need to be registered with a GP surgery to be invited for breast screening.
It's important that you attend as soon as it's possible for you to do so.
What happens at your Breast Screening appointment?
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. The mammographer will be female.
The mammograms only take a few minutes. The whole appointment should take about 30 minutes.
Before starting, the mammographer will check your details with you and ask if you have had any breast problems.
They will also explain what will happen during the screening and answer any questions you have.