We are in the process of centralising the Breast Screening booking system across the London NHS Breast Screening Programme and soon we will have a new centralised hub where you will be able to change your appointments online. For general appointment enquires or to change your appointment please contact us on 020 3758 2024.
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Information in other languages

Information about breast screening should be available to everybody. This area of the website lets you change information into the different languages that are commonly spoken in London.

The website uses a tool called 'Google translate' to automatically change one language into another via the internet. This is a valuable service, but it is automated so can present some problems with word for word translation. We have tried to use plain English on the website so it is clear and easy to read, and the automated translation makes it accessible to many more people.

If you require further language assistance, please contact The Barts and the London health advocacy service on

Free phone: 0800 056 6359

Common questions

Common questions

We hope we have answered any questions you may have, if we haven't please contact us and we will aim to respond in two working days.

If you have a question please check the FAQs below. If you still can't find the answer you're looking for then please feel free to contact us and we will be happy to try and help.

Having a mammogram

A mammogram is an x-ray examination of the breasts and is a method of finding breast cancer at a very early stage. A female mammographer will compress your breasts, one at a time between two special x-ray plates and take the x-rays. The compression only lasts a few seconds and does not cause any harm to the breasts. Compression is needed to keep the breast still and to get the clearest picture with the lowest amount of radiation possible.

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.

A female mammographer will always perform the x-ray.

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

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.

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.

Your mammogram will be performed either at a mobile screening van or permanent unit within a building, at one of our local sites.

Yes. Please be aware that there is limited space at some of our screening sites particularly the mobile screening vans. Please note we do not allow men on the mobile vans to ensure each woman's privacy.

Your results should be sent to you within 2 weeks. You will be advised of any expected delays at the time of your screening.

Preparing for your mammogram

We ask you not to wear spray on deodorant on the day of your appointment, because the particles in the spray may impact on the quality of the image taken by the x-ray machine. If the picture taken is not clear, the Doctor will not be able to give you a result, and you will be asked to come back for another x-ray.

We ask you not to wear talcum powder on the day of your appointment, because the particles in the powder may impact on the quality of the image taken by the x-ray machine. If the picture taken is not clear, the Doctor will not be able to give you a result, and you will be asked to come back for another x-ray.

Wearing separates will mean getting undressed for your x-ray will be easier, as you will only need to remove your top when in the room.

Appointments

We will be happy to make you another appointment. Please contact us or telephone 020 3758 2024.

Yes, please contact us on 020 3758 2024 to alter the date, time or location of your screening appointment.

Please contact us to establish if it is advisable for you to attend for this 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.
 

From time to time screening locations can change due to availability. If the site you have been called to is not convenient then you can change your appointment please click here for more details. 

Yes, we screen in a number of other local places. To view alternative locations for your screening appointment click here. If these sites are not convenient for your place of work, please contact us.

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.

Timing of breast screening

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

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.

Yes. The risk of getting breast cancer increases as women get older and we encourage women over 70 to continue with three yearly screening. All women over the age of 70 need to contact us to arrange an appointment.

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.

Currently the breast screening programme does not screen women under the age of 50. Over the next few years we will gradually extend the breast screening programme to include women from the age of 47. Women below this age will not be routinely screened.

If you have a family history of breast cancer please see your GP who may refer you to a family history clinic at your local breast unit. The family history clinic will assess your need for extra mammographic screening.

Once every three years your GP practice will be contacted and all women between the ages of 50 and 70 will be routinely invited. Not every woman will receive an appointment as soon as she is 50. You will receive your first appointment before your 53rd birthday.

Women with disabilities

Please contact us to discuss your screening appointment, as we would like to allocate more time for your appointment. Your appointment will be made at our base unit, where we have larger rooms and disabled access. If you require transport for your appointment, please contact us.

Pacemakers & breast implants

Yes because you still have breast tissue, which should be screened. There is no evidence to suggest breast implants are damaged by mammograms.

Breast implants appear as a solid white area on a mammogram. This may hide some of the breast tissue preventing it from being seen on the x-ray. The film readers will only be able to report on the breast tissue that they can see on your mammogram.

Yes, it is safe for you to have a mammogram. It is helpful if you can tell the mammographer where your pacemaker is sited.

Your pacemaker may hide the small area of breast tissue behind the pacemaker, preventing it from being seen on the x-ray. The film readers will only be able to report on the breast tissue that they can see on your mammogram.

Breast symptoms

See your GP without delay even if you have had a recent mammogram. Do not wait until your next mammogram.

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.

Family history

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.

Breast cancer patients

Yes as your risk of breast cancer is slightly higher if you have previously had breast cancer.