Breast cancer is the most common type of cancer in the UK. Most women diagnosed with breast cancer are over the age of 50, but younger women can also get breast cancer. About 1 in 8 women are diagnosed with breast cancer during their lifetime. There’s a good chance of recovery if it’s detected at an early stage. For this reason, it’s vital that women check their breasts regularly for any changes and always have any changes examined by a GP. Mammographic screening, where X-ray images of the breast are taken, is the most commonly available way of finding a change in your breast tissue (lesion) at an early stage.
In England, breast screening is currently offered to women aged 50 up to their 71st birthday every 3 years. Women over the age of 70 are also entitled to screening and can arrange an appointment through the local screening unit at Park Centre for Breast Care. The NHS is in the process of extending the programme as a trial, offering screening to some women aged 47 to 73.
You will be sent an invitation letter in the post (not form your GP but from the NHS) when it’s time for you to have breast screening. The local Breat Screening Centre in Brighton is opposite Preston Park; Breast Screening (Mammography) at Park Centre for Breast Care
There are 2 ways your breast screening appointment will be booked. Your invitation letter will either:
- ask you to book an appointment by phone, email or sometimes online. Book your appointment at Park Centre for Breast Care by calling 01273 664966
- give you a pre-booked appointment and tell you when and where to go for breast screening
For surveillance (both oncology and family history) and symptomatic mammograms (where women have been referred by their GP with a symptom for investigation) telephone 01273 696955 ext 3730.
What happens at your breast screening appointment
During breast screening you’ll have 4 breast X-rays (mammograms), 2 for each breast. The mammograms are done by a specialist called a mammographer. The mammographer will be female. The mammograms only take a few minutes. The whole appointment should take about 30 minutes. Before starting, the mammographer will check your details with you and ask if you have had any breast problems. They will also explain what will happen during the screening and answer any questions you have.
How breast screening is done
Breast screening is usually done by 1 or 2 female mammographers. You can ask them about any questions or concerns you have.
- You’ll need to undress, in a private changing area, so you are naked from the waist up. You may be given a hospital gown to put on.
- You’ll be called into the X-ray room and the mammographer will explain what will happen.
- The mammographer will place your breast onto the X-ray machine. It will be squeezed between 2 pieces of plastic to keep it still while the X-rays are taken. This takes a few seconds and you need to stay still. Your breast will be taken off of the machine afterwards.
- The X-ray machine will then be tilted to one side and the process will be repeated on the side of your breast.
- Your other breast will be X-rayed in the same way.
- You will then return to the changing area to get dressed.
Your results will be sent to you in the post.