After the Mammogram

 

Receiving your Mammogram results

You will receive a letter in the post with your breast screening results and this will be within 2 weeks of your appointment. Your G.P will also receive a copy of these results.

What happens if everything is clear?

If you have a ‘normal result’, that is your breasts at the time of having a mammogram were considered to have no abnormality, then you will be invited again for screening in 3 years’ time. If you are over 70 though you will have to contact the breast screening unit to make your own appointment at this time.

Breast checking between screens

It is important to remember that having a mammogram is just taking an image of your breast as it appears on the day of the mammogram. Breast cancer can still develop from then until the date of your next mammogram. It is important that if you notice any breast changes you should contact your G.P immediately. The changes you are looking out for are: lumps/thickening, a change in your nipple, a change in how your breast looks or feels, a swelling or lump in the armpit. There is a useful 5 step guide for performing a breast awareness on the Breast Cancer web site at
https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/nhs-breast-screening-awareness-leaflet

What happens if the screening mammogram results is not clear?

You may be called back for some more tests as your mammogram may look abnormal. The clinic you will be called back to will be called an ‘assessment clinic’. This clinic will often not be at the same place where you had your screening mammogram because you are called into the main Breast Unit in your area where the doctors, mammographers and nurses are based. About 4 women in every 100 are asked to return to this clinic for further tests. Out of these 4 women, 1 will be found to have breast cancer. The other 3 will not have cancer and be returned to the screening service for a routine invitation (3 years). If you are called back you may have a breast examination by hand, more mammograms, an ultrasound scan and possibly a biopsy (a small needle test). You will often receive the results of your mammogram and ultrasound on the same day, though biopsy results are usually given to you in around one week.

Why you might be called back for another mammogram

Some women will receive a letter that stated they need to have a repeat mammogram as there was a technical problem with their first mammogram. Please do not worry, unfortunately these technical problems, which can include blurring and incorrect positioning of the breast,  can happen.

Who reads your mammogram and what do they do with your images?

In the breast screening service your mammograms are ‘double’ reported, that means that they will be read independently by 2 different qualified members of staff.  If there is a discrepancy then a consensus of opinion will be reached. This will be done in a separate meeting which is known as a consensus or discussion meeting. Mammograms will be stored securely for at least 8 years.

How is the quality of the breast screening service ensured?

A year after the introduction of breast screening in 1986, a Quality Assurance (QA) programme was established. This ensures that the service is maintained to the national standards and meets the needs of all women who are invited for screening. This process checks many factors on a regular basis.