This information is about breast screening. We hope it answers some of the questions you may have if you are about to have screening or if you have already been screened.
In the UK, women aged 50 to 70 are invited to attend for breast screening every three years as part of the NHS breast screening programme. Each country within the UK has its own screening programme. In England the age range is gradually being extended to include women aged 47-73.
The aim is for all screening centres in England to be screening using the extended age range by 2012. At the moment Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland will continue to screen women aged 50-70.
The NHS screening programmes aim to find breast cancer very early so that women have the best chance of the cancer being cured. If you are aged over 70 (73 in England - once the age extension is fully in place), you can continue to have regular screening by making your own appointments at the breast screening clinic.
You may also be referred to a breast clinic for tests at any age if you find a change or lump in your breast tissue that worries you, even if you’re already having screening as part of the breast screening programme. Your GP (family doctor) can refer you.
This booklet gives information to help you understand why and how breast screening is done, and what happens if you have an ‘abnormal’ result. You can find out about the tests and treatment that you may need if you have an abnormal screening result.
You may want to discuss this information with our cancer support specialists.
You'll know how your breasts normally feel and if you notice any change you should see your GP straight away. The sooner breast cancer is diagnosed, the more effective treatment will be.