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FAQs

What is a mammogram?
At your screening appointment a female mammographer will explain breast screening to you and ask you a few questions. She will then take the x-ray by compressing your breasts, one at a time between two special x-ray plates. The compression only lasts a few seconds and there is no evidence this harms the breast. Compression is needed to keep the breast still, in order to get the clearest picture with the lowest amount of radiation.

Does a mammogram hurt?
Some women find mammography uncomfortable and some find it painful as the breasts have to be held firmly in position and pressed to take a good x-ray. If you do experience pain it usually only lasts as long as the mammogram although it may continue for some time in a small number of women.

Who will take my mammogram?
A female Mammographer will always perform the x-ray.

How long will the mammogram take?
A mammogram takes a few minutes, however your whole visit to the screening unit will take about half an hour.

Are mammograms safe?
Any x-ray involves radiation but mammograms only require a very low dose. It is about the same as the dose a person receives by flying from London to Australia and back. The risk that such a low dose could cause a cancer is far outweighed by the benefits of early detection of breast cancer.

Does breast screening prevent breast cancer?
No. Breast screening aims to find breast cancer at an early stage when it may be too small for you or your doctor to feel. Finding breast cancer early greatly increases your chances of successful treatment.

Where will the mammogram be done?
Your mammogram will be performed in our Breast Screening Unit.

What shall I wear for my appointment?
You will be asked to undress completely down to your waist so it is a good idea to wear a separate top instead of a dress.

Can I bring someone with me?
Yes however male friends and/or family members will be required to stay in the waiting area during the screening process.   

When do I get my test results?
Your results should be sent to you within 10 days - 2 weeks. You will be advised of any expected delays at the time of your screening.   

I have been invited to have a mammogram, but I have had a mammogram within the last six months, do I still need to come?
Please contact the screening unit using the 'contact us' page or by telephone, and we will advise you.

I missed my appointment how do I get another one?
Please contact the screening unit using the 'contact us' page or by telephone, and we will be happy to make you another appointment.

Can I change the date and time of my appointment?
Yes, please contact the Breast Screening Unit to change your appointment if necessary. 

I have been screened elsewhere shall I still keep my screening appointment?
Please contact us to establish if it is advisable for you to attend for this screening appointment.

I have moved house what happens to my screening appointment?
If you have notified your practice of your new address you will be called for screening when your practice is called. If this is likely to be over three years since your last invitation you will be called seperately from your practice to ensure you are screened on time. If you have moved house and fear you may have missed a screening appointment please contact us.

I don't want to be screened, what do I do?
We respect your decision not to be screened, although we would encourage all women to attend for breast screening when invited. However if you choose not to take up your invitation please contact the screening office so your appointment is not wasted. If you change your mind at any point in the future please contact us. We will be happy to make you another appointment.

I am breast feeding at the moment should I attend?
It would not be recommended that you attend your appointment at this time, please contact us to cancel and re-arrange when your situation changes. Contact us.

Is 3 years often enough?
At present 3 yearly screening is recommended by the NHS Breast Screening Service. This recommendation is based on a review of evidence.

What should I do between breast screens?
You should continue to be breast aware learning what is normal for you and reporting any changes or concerns to your GP without delay. Do not wait until your next mammogram. Breast screening will pick up most but not all breast cancer.

Why am I being called for screening again before 3 years?
From time to time changes to the screening schedule occur to ensure that every woman receives an appointment within 3 years. This can sometimes result in a small number of women receiving an appointment earlier than expected.

What should I do if I notice any breast changes?
See your GP without delay even if you have had a recent mammogram. Do not wait until your next mammogram.

I have a breast lump how do I make an appointment?
If you have a breast lump or any other breast symptom you should see your GP, who may organise a referral to your local breast unit.

I have a family history of breast cancer, do I need to have mammograms more often?
If you think you are in a high risk group, you should discuss this with your GP. Your GP can advise you further and may refer you to a family history clinic at your local Breast Unit.

I have had breast cancer in the past do I still need to come?
Yes as your risk of breast cancer is slightly higher if you have previously had breast cancer.