What is breast screening? :: Central & East London Breast Screening Service
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.

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

What is breast screening?

Radiographer shows a women how the mammogram will be taken

This information is about breast screening and why we recommend it is something you should do.

What is breast screening?

Breast screening is an NHS service for women over the age of 50. Breast screening (or mammography, as it is also called), is an x-ray of the breast. By doing this x-ray, doctors are able to see at an early stage, if there are any changes in the breast tissue that could be due to cancer, so they can be investigated early.

Early detection saves lives

Most breast changes will not be cancer, but if cancer is found, the treatment required will often be less intense, and the chance of making a full recovery much higher. If breast cancer is diagnosed early at screening, 97% of women will be alive five years later.* *www.cancerscreening.nhs.uk

Being aware of signs and symptoms is really important

The best way to reduce your risk of developing advanced breast cancer is by having regular breast mammograms, as well as being aware of signs and symptoms and having the confidence to identify them. Breast screening does save lives (approximately 1,400 per year in England). However, sometimes a breast cancer will not be picked up on the mammogram. Even though the service works to very high national and local standards, there is little we can do about this.

It is normal to feel anxious

The time both before and after a breast screening appointment can be a difficult and anxious time for you. The team at the service always do their best to ensure your experience on the day is a good one, and the wait for your results is as short as possible.

19 out of 20 women will be given the all clear

To try and help you during this period, information will be provided about the risks and benefits of screening and about what will happen next. It is also important to remember that 19 out of 20 women will be given the 'all clear', without having to come back for another three years.