Click on the questions below to expand the information box.
Why have I been invited for breast screening?
Under the guidance of the National Breast Screening Service, eligible women aged between 50 and 71 are invited every three years for a well woman mammogram.
What is a mammogram?
This is essentially an x-ray of your breasts. Usually four images are taken in total by a female radiographer or assistant practitioner. Your breasts are made up of glandular tissue and fatty tissue and sometimes it can be hard to detect an abnormality (especially if it is very small).
To help us see your breast tissue clearly, we have to compress your breast to spread your tissue out to help an image reader detect abnormalities. This might be slightly uncomfortable for a few seconds. However, it is very important for us to do this as it allows our image readers see any subtle changes.
What age do they start and what age do they stop taking mammograms?
Under the guidance of the National Breast Screening Service, eligible women aged between 50 and 71 are invited every three years for a well woman mammogram. This means not every woman receives her invitation as soon as she is 50. It will be sometime between the ages of 50 and 53.
If you are registered with a GP and the practice have your correct details, then you will automatically receive an invitation.
Once you reach the age of 71, you will no longer receive an invitation for your breast screening. However, you are more than welcome to self-refer for your mammogram. You can ring the booking line on 01642 624261.
The risk of getting breast cancer does not decrease with age, so even if you do not wish to attend further breast screening, it is important to be breast aware and voice any concerns to your GP.
What will happen at my appointment?
At your appointment our friendly staff will confirm basic identity checks with you, before showing you into a private changing cubicle. We will ask you to remove your top and bra. Use the wipes provided around your breast area and under your arms and remove any talc or deodorant. You will then cover up with your own top.
We advise ladies to come to their appointment in separate top and bottoms; please refrain from wearing a dress.
When your top is back on, wait for your name to be called. Once in the x-ray room you will be asked some questions such as “do you currently have any breast issues?”, “have you had any surgery to your breasts?” or “do you take HRT?”. The mammographer will talk you though the process and then when you are ready, the exam will begin.
Four x-rays are normally taken (two of each breast). To obtain the best possible images, we will explain the best position for you to be in. Once we are happy with the images, the examination is complete. We will direct you back into your changing cubicle where you are free to get dressed and leave. Your whole appointment should not take any more than 15 minutes.
Where will I go for my appointment? Can I choose or change it?
What happens if I’ve missed my appointment?
If you have missed your appointment, you can ring our booking line on 01642 624261 to reschedule. Our clinics can get full quickly, so it is possible that you might not be able to get a new appointment straight away. We will do our best to find a time and date that works for you.
I’ve recently moved into the area. Will I be invited?
Regular checks are ran to identify women who have moved into the area, or who may be overdue for a screening examination. These women will then be offered an appointment to attend screening. Women are always welcome to contact their local screening centre, if they think that they are due for a mammogram.
Will it hurt?
Don’t worry. The mammography practitioners will do their best to minimise any discomfort. During the mammogram each breast is placed, in turn, on the x-ray machine and gently but firmly, compressed with a clear plate. The compression only lasts a few seconds and doesn’t cause any harm. This is needed to keep the breast still and to get the clearest picture with the lowest amount of radiation possible.
Some women do find compression uncomfortable and some may experience a little short-lived pain. Normally two mammograms of each breast are taken.
What should I wear to my appointment?
You will be asked to remove the top half of your clothing. It is advisable that you wear separates instead of a dress.
Unfortunately, hospital gowns are not available on our mobile units.
Can I bring someone with me?
There is limited seating on our mobile vans. As such, we ask that you attend your appointment by yourself. However, if you have a carer, they are more than welcome to attend, but will not be able to be present in the x-ray room whilst your images are being taken.
We also do not allow gentlemen or children on the mobile unit.
Will the screening staff be female?
At the initial screening appointment, you will see a female healthcare specialist.
However, if you are asked to come back for additional tests, the radiologist may be male.
I have mobility issues/struggles and will require a longer appointment. What should I do?
If you normally struggle with your mobility, use a wheelchair, or use walking aids, please contact us on 01642 624261 and we can arrange a more suitable appointment. We have dedicated clinics held at North Tees, where you will be given all the time and support you need.
Important note: If you are given an appointment at one of our mobile sites, it is really important that you contact us and let us know about your mobility requirements. The vans are not wheelchair accessible and have steep steps, so we will be able to rebook your appointment at a more suitable location.
I have a physical disability. What happens if screening is not possible?
Mammography is a procedure which requires a high degree of cooperation between the mammographer and yourself. When you attend for screening you will have to be carefully positioned on the x-ray machine and you must be able to hold the position for several seconds.
This may not be possible if you have limited mobility in your upper body or are unable to support your upper body unaided. The mammographer will be able to advise you at the time of screening.
I have learning difficulties or care for someone who needs additional support
Please contact our booking line on 01642 624261 and we can arrange for a longer appointment to be made for you. If necessary, you can also come and have a look around any site where you can have your mammogram and ask our friendly team any questions you might have.
You don’t have to attend your breast screening examination. However, if you choose not to come it is very important that you check for any changes or voice any concerns you have to your doctor.
There is a useful link below, which helps to explain the breast screening process.
I have breast implants/loop recorder/hickman line etc. What should I do?
Please contact our booking line on 01642 624261 and we will update our records before your visit. The mammographer will perform the exam in a slightly different way which maintains the quality and standards of your results.
It is very important that you let us know if you have any breast implants as you will need a longer, more specialised appointment.
I’m worried about my implants. Should I attend?
If you have any questions or concerns about your implants, please contact your GP.
Screening for cancer is not a check on your implants. If you have any concerns about the integrity of your implants, you should tell the radiographer before your examination begins.
I recently had a mammogram. Should I still attend my appointment?
If you have had a mammogram within the last six months of your appointment date, please contact us on 01642 624261.
A mammogram uses a low dose of radiation. Due to regulations and national guidance, we would not recommend a well woman check within six months of your previous mammogram.
What if I’ve had breast cancer? Should I attend?
If you have been treated for breast cancer, you will often have annual mammograms for the next five-years as part of your follow up care. These mammograms are not part of the screening programme.
If you get an invitation to attend for breast screening while you are still attending annual or follow up mammography appointments you should contact the screening unit to let them know. You should not need to attend for breast screening as well.
However, once you have finished attending for annual follow up mammography it is important that you come for your three-yearly screening when invited. As long as this screening appointment is more than six months after your last annual follow up mammogram. If it is within six months, please contact your screening unit. If you have any questions please contact your GP or local screening unit.
How quickly will I get my results?
Your results will be posted out to your home address within 2-3 weeks of your appointment.
If you haven’t heard anything within four weeks of your appointment then please do not hesitate to ring our office. Your GP will also receive a copy of the results.
I have received my results. What do they mean?
You will receive one of three results letters.
Your results are clear and there has been no change since your last mammogram. There is nothing to arouse concern. You will be invited for another screening mammogram when you are next due – which is every three-years. During this period you should remain breast aware and report any concerns to your GP.
This is where one or more of the images needs to be repeated. This is usually due to slight movement during the mammogram, incorrect positioning or a machine malfunction. If this happens, you will be invited back to your closest mobile unit for extra imaging.
Recall to assessment clinic
If a consultant wants to look at something in your breast images in more detail, you will be recalled to an assessment clinic. This is not necessarily something to worry about. It may be something in your breast tissue that is perfectly normal for you, but we need to check to be sure.
If your assessment clinic appointment is at an inconvenient day or time please contact 01642 624264 to rearrange it.
More images may need to be obtained at your appointment and you will have a full examination by one of our consultants. Ultrasound of your breast and possible further tests may also be necessary.
There will be support available through the breast care nurses, who can answer any worries you have and be on hand to help with any queries. If you have any questions before you attend for your appointment, please contact the breast care nurse team on 01642 624371.
How can I be breast aware?
Breast awareness means knowing your own breasts and being aware of what changes are normal for you. You can become familiar with your breasts by looking at and feeling them in any way that is best for you, e.g. in the bath, shower, or when dressing. Do this regularly – we recommend you check monthly. Medical professionals no longer recommend a set way to check your breasts. It is important to feel all parts of your breasts including your nipples and in and around your armpits.
Refer to the NHS website below for more help and guidance on how to check your breasts: