7 important things you should know about breast screening mammograms

By Leslie Robinson, WOMMeN Project Lead


breast screening mammograms1. You’ll be automatically called for screening if you fit the population criteria

Yes, you don’t need to worry about making sure you’re on the list. There’s a tight system of control that’s managed by the NHS Breast Screening Programme. As long as you’re registered with a GP you’ll be sent a letter when screening is being carried out in your area, if you’re above the age of 50 (47 in some areas because of an age extension trial). If you’re over 70 (or 73 if your area is involved in the age extension trial) you won’t be called automatically but you can contact your local screening unit if you would like to continue to be screened. Their contact details are here.


2. You can change your appointment if it’s inconvenient

Yes, that’s right. It’s really important that you aren’t put off attending just because the appointment isn’t convenient. Therefore the telephone number of the screening unit is included in your appointment letter and you are encouraged to ring to get the appointment that suits you. One word of caution though, if your appointment is on a mobile mammography unit you will only be able to rearrange a time that coincides with their visit to your area, so to avoid disappointment ring asap! If you’ve lost your letter, you can find the contact details of your local screening unit here.


3. It’s a female health professional who will carry out your mammogram

We do everything we can to ensure your privacy and dignity are maintained. That means you’ll only come across women practitioners when you attend for your mammogram. We can’t give you a gown so you might want to bring a cardigan to slip over your shoulders . Come in an outfit that has separates above and below the waist. That way you’re not standing in your pants!


4. The mammographer will have to gently handle your breasts

This comes as a surprise to some women but do remember the mammographers are highly trained professionals who do their utmost to maintain your comfort and dignity. Do tell them if you are feeling anxious.


5. You’ll get your results in approximately 2 weeks

That’s right – no long anxious waiting to find out what the mammogram showed. Some women have to come back for more images but the majority of these will be given the all clear. More information about breast screening and the sorts of results you might receive can be found on the NHS Choices Breast Screening website


6. Just because you were given the all clear doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be vigilant

The screening results refer to the state of your breasts at the time of the mammogram. Your next mammogram will be in three years time. In that time you might develop problems with your breasts. The NHS has leaflets in all languages to explain to you how you can be ‘breast aware’.


7. You are not alone!

The WOMMeN breast screening hub has lots of useful information but importantly you can also use the WOMMeN forum to connect with other women who have had a mammogram and with mammography practitioners.


les 2Action point: if you’ve had a breast screening mammogram do consider sharing your experiences with other women on our forum. If you like this post and our WOMMeN hub share it with your friends. Thanks! Leslie

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