West Midlands Breast Screening Programme Breast Screening Programme
West Midlands Breast Screening Programme

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

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.

   

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Can I arrange my appointment nearer my place of work? Yes, we screen in a number of other local places. (View alternative locations for your screening appointment). Please contact the screening unit using the change your appointment form and we will arrange a new appointment for you. If you prefer you can telephone the office, and we will be happy to make you another appointment.

If none of these sites are not convenient for your place of work, please contact us.
Appointments
Can I change the date and time of my appointment? Yes, please complete the online change your appointment form to alter the date, time or location of your screening appointment. Appointments
I am aged 51 and haven't been invited for screening, but I have a friend aged 48 who has. Why is this? Your friend will have been invited as part of the age extension, which is starting to invite women aged 47-49, and 71-73. For women already older than 47-49, their first invitations to screening will arrive between their 50th and 53rd birthday, as usual.
Appointments
I don’t want to be screened, what do I do? 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.
You can contact the screening unit using the change your appointment form
Appointments
I have been invited to have a mammogram, but I have had a mammogram within the last year, do I still need to come? Please contact the screening unit using the contact us. page. Appointments
I have just changed my GP and don’t want to miss screening, what should I do? Regular checks are run to identify women who have changed GP recently and who are due for screening. These women are then offered an appointment as soon as possible. Women are always welcome to contact the screening office if they think that they are due for a mammogram.

Please remember that you will need to be registered with a local NHS GP practice in order to process your invitation.
Appointments
I have moved house what happens to my screening appointment? If you have notified your GP practice of your new address you will be invited for screening when your practice is next invited.

If you have moved house and fear you may have missed a screening appointment please contact us.
Appointments
I haven't been called for breast screening even though I'm over 50 - do I need to contact anyone? The NHS Breast Screening Programme is a rolling one which calls women from doctors' practices in turn. This means not every woman receives her invitation as soon as she is 50. It will be sometime between the ages of 50 and 53. If you are registered with a GP and the practice has your correct details, then you will automatically receive an invitation. You might like to ask your surgery when the women on their list are next due for screening.

If you are over 53 and have not been invited then please contact us.
Appointments
I missed or forgot my appointment how do I get another one? Please contact the screening unit using the change your appointment form and we will arrange a new appointment for you. If you prefer you can contact us and we will be happy to make you another appointment. Appointments
I'm aged 47, and live in an area where age extension has started. Some local friends of the same age have been invited for screening, but I haven't. Why not? There are two possible reasons:
  • The GP practice you are registered with isn't yet due for screening
  • The GP practice is being invited and your name isn't in the randomised group of women aged 47-50 who are receiving invitations
If your name hasn't been included in the randomisation process, then you can request to be screened anyway. Your invitation will arrive when your GP practice is next due to be included in screening.
NB Once you have reached the age of 50, routine rules apply and you can no longer opt into the screening programme.
If you don't live in an area where age extension has started, then you cannot be screened before your first routine invitation which should arrive before your 53rd birthday.
Appointments
It's been more than 3 years since I was last screened. Do I need to contact the screening office ? From time to time changes to the screening plan result in women receiving an appointment slightly later or earlier than the normal 3 year interval. However, if you are concerned, please contact us.
Appointments
Why have I been sent to a different place this time? From time to time screening locations can change due to availability. If the site you have been called to is not convenient then request a change of your appointment .
Appointments
I have had breast cancer in the past do I still need to come? If you have had a breast cancer in the past and you are currently under the care of your breast team (follow-up), your breast team will arrange a mammogram for you, on a yearly basis. It is best to attend the mammogram appointment that your surgeon sends you for. If you are unsure of which appointment is best, please contact us. Breast Cancer Patients
I have a breast lump how do I make an appointment? 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. Breast Symptoms
What should I do if I notice any breast changes? See your GP without delay even if you have had a recent mammogram. Do not wait until your next mammogram. Breast Symptoms
I have a family history of breast cancer, do I need to have mammograms more often? 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. Family History
Can I bring someone with me? Yes. Please be aware that there is limited space at some of our screening sites particularly the mobile screening vans. Because of the small waiting area on the mobile screening vans, men are asked to wait outside. Having a Mammogram
Does a mammogram hurt? 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.
Having a Mammogram
Does breast screening prevent 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.
Having a Mammogram
How long will the mammogram take? A mammogram takes a few minutes, however your whole visit to the screening unit will take about half an hour.
Having a Mammogram
What is 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. Having a Mammogram
What shall I wear for my appointment? You will be asked to undress completely down to your waist so it is a good idea to wear a separate top instead of a dress. Having a Mammogram
When do I get my results? Your results will be sent to your home address and should be within 2 weeks. You will be advised of any expected delays at the time of your screening. Having a Mammogram
Where will the mammogram be done? Your mammogram will be performed either at a mobile screening unit or static unit within a building, at one of our local screening sites. Having a Mammogram
Who will take my mammogram? A female Mammographer will always perform the x-ray. Having a Mammogram
I am over 70 can I have an appointment? 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 will need to contact us to arrange an appointment.
Older Women
I have a pacemaker, can I have a 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.
Pacemakers & Breast Implants
I have breast implants will this affect my mammogram? 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 and you will be given a special leaflet explaining this before you leave the screening unit. Pacemakers & Breast Implants
What does 'aspiration' mean? Removing fluid from a lump (or cyst) using a fine needle.
Terminology
What is a biopsy? A Biopsy - a small area of breast tissue may be removed and examined under the microscope. This is carried out under local anaesthetic. Terminology
What is an ultrasound? An ultrasound is a scan which shows a picture of the tissues within the breast. It uses sound waves to create an image of the breast tissue.
Terminology
What is cytology? Cytology – where a few cells may be removed from your breast with a very fine needle and examined under a microscope. This test is similar to having blood taken.
Terminology
What is histology? The examination of breast tissue under the microscope to assist diagnosis. For example, after a biopsy is performed, a pathologist will perform a "histological" evaluation, which means the tissue collected will be analysed for any abnormalities. Terminology
I am 50. Why have I not received my appointment? 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.
Timing of Breast Screening
I am under 50 can I have an appointment? 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.
Timing of Breast Screening
What should I do between breast screens? 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.
Timing of Breast Screening
Why is my screening invitation not exactly 3 years since my last appointment? From time to time changes to the screening plan result in women receiving an appointment slightly later or earlier than the normal 3 year interval.
Timing of Breast Screening
Breast Care Nurse Offers support and information to women and their relatives at and following an assesment clinic. Also arranges admission for surgery, if necessary.
Who works in the Screening service
Breast Screening Unit receptionist Confirms woman’s details (as per her appointment letter) and collates your paperwork ready for the radiographer. Who works in the Screening service
Clinician (radiologist, surgeon, breast clinician) Undertakes clinical examination (e.g. physical examination) of the breast and liaises closely with pathologists and surgeons regarding diagnosis. Who works in the Screening service
Consultant radiologist Undertake ultrasounds, aspirations, biopsies and view x-rays to decide what other tests may be needed. They also liaise closely with pathologists and surgeons regarding diagnosis.
Who works in the Screening service
Pathologist A pathologist is an expert in interpreting tissue samples e.g. any tests that involve taking a small sample of breast tissue will be sent to a pathologist for interpretation. Most tissue samples need to be processed in the laboratory before the results can be given. Who works in the Screening service
Radiographer Carries out the mammography on X-ray machines. Radiographers may also assist radiologists undertake ultrasound and other procedures. Who works in the Screening service
Surgeon Breast surgeons work in some of our assessment clinics carrying out tests and discussing results with women. If anybody needs further treatment they will be referred to a Breast surgeon in one of the local hospitals (as preferred by the individual patient). Who works in the Screening service
Will the screening staff all be women? At the initial screening appointment, yes. However, if you are invited back for further assessment the radiologist or surgeon may be male.

Who works in the Screening service