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Frequently asked questions (FAQs)

What is breast screening?

Breast screening is when an X-ray (mammogram) is taken of the breast. Usually, four images are taken in total - two of each breast. These images are taken by a female radiographer (mammographer) or a female assistant practitioner. To get a clear image, your breast will need to be compressed. Some women find this uncomfortable, but it should only last for a few seconds.

Does breast screening prevent cancer?

Breast screening will not prevent breast cancer, but it aims to detect cancer at an early stage when it is too small to be felt. Finding cancer early greatly increases the chance of successful treatment. We encourage you to be breast-aware between mammograms and contact your GP without delay if you notice any changes.

What if I have a family history of breast cancer?

If you are worried about a family history of breast cancer, please speak to your GP. They can advise you further and refer you to an appropriate clinic if required.

I have recently moved. When will I be called for breast screening?

There are failsafe processes in place to capture anyone who moves into the area and is due for or has missed a screening appointment. If you are worried you have been missed, please contact your local screening office to ask.

I have changed GP. Do I need to tell the screening office?

No. If you have registered with a new GP, you will still be invited when you are next due. If you think your screening is overdue. Please contact the screening office.

I've been invited for my screening but I've had a mammogram recently.

If you have had a mammogram in the last six months, please contact the screening office to discuss your appointment.

I have been treated for breast cancer before. Should I attend?

If you have been treated for breast cancer before, please contact the screening office to discuss your appointment. 

If you were treated in the last five years, you should still be on follow-up with the breast consultant. This means your routine screening appointment isn't needed.

If you were treated more than five years ago, you would resume the normal schedule of routine breast screening.

I have breast implants. Can I still attend for breast screening?

Breast implants appear as a solid white area on a mammogram. The implants can sometimes hide breast tissue, so film readers will only be able to report on breast tissue they can see.

Please contact the screening office before your appointment - we will need to allocate more time for your screening. You will also receive the following leaflet after your mammogram: Breast implants and breast screening - GOV.UK (

I have a pacemaker. Can I still attend for breast screening?

Yes. Please contact the screening office to let them know before your appointment. The mammographer will ask where your pacemaker is fitted before the mammogram.

I identify as transgender or non-binary. Can I still attend for breast screening?

If you are registered with your GP as female, you will be invited for breast screening. If you were assigned female at birth but are registered with a GP as male, you will not be routinely invited for breast screening but you can request an appointment. 

See more information about breast screening for transgender and non-binary people.

I am worried about my breast. What should I do?

If you notice any changes in your breast or are experiencing breast symptoms, please contact your GP practice without delay. Do not wait until your next routine breast screening appointment.

It's important to be breast-aware. See information on how to check your chest for signs of breast cancer.

I don't have a GP. Can I still attend for breast screening?

If you want to attend a breast screening appointment, you do need to be registered with a GP practice. It is easy to register and you should be able to register with a GP practice of your choice. 

A GP practice cannot refuse to register you if you have no form of identification or if you have no fixed address. 

Breast screening invitations and results letters are sent by post. If you cannot register with your own fixed address, you need to think about how you can receive these letters. If you are unable to provide an address, the GP practice can register you using its own address. This means you will need to collect your letters from the practice.

More information on registering with a GP practice for breast screening.

Why is my appointment at a different location to my last one?

Sometimes screening locations change. This can be due to availability. If the site you have been invited to is not convenient, please contact the screening office and we will try and make a more suitable appointment for you.

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