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National Services Division Commissioning for Scotland's Health

Breast Screening Information

This section intends to answer any questions, issues or concerns you may have about breast screening and mammograms in particular.

For a list of useful sources of information regarding breast screening, please click the following link: Breast Screening - other sources of information

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is Breast Screening?
Why is it important to attend?
Who is invited?
Where do I attend for breast screening?
What happens when I attend for screening?
What should I wear?
Is the mammogram sore?
What happens after my mammograms?
What happens if I need wheelchair access?
What happens if I have breast implants?
What happens if I would like to contact a Breast Screening Centre?

What is Breast Screening?

Breast screening involves taking an x-ray of the breast, this is called a mammogram. Two views of each breast will be taken to ensure all parts of the breast tissue can be examined.

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Why is it important to attend?

Breast cancer can affect any woman. Breast cancer affects 1 in 10 Scottish women at some time in their life. It is known that if breast cancer is found at an early stage, treatment has the greatest chance of being successful. The best way of doing this is by having regular mammograms, as you may not be able to see or feel any early changes to your breasts.

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Who is invited?

Breast cancer is more common in women over 50. The Scottish Breast Screening Programme invites women aged between 50-70 years old every 3 years. Women over 70 are encouraged to attend by contacting their local screening centre for an appointment.

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Where do I attend for breast screening?

You will be invited to attend for your mammogram to a screening centre or a mobile unit.

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What happens when I attend for screening?

On arrival, your personal details will be check and you will then be shown to a private changing cubicle. From there, the radiographer will take you through to another room for your mammograms and will explain the procedure to you. This involves positioning and compressing each breast in the x-ray machine. Your whole visit will last approximately 20-25 minutes. For more information please follow this link to the external NHS Health Scotland website: Your Breast Screening Appointment Explained (2008).

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What should I wear?

As you will be asked to undress to the waist, it may be easier to wear a skirt or trousers rather than a dress. It is also important that you do not wear talcum powder or spray deodorant as this can affect the mammogram. Roll on deodorant is fine.

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Is the mammogram sore?

Some women may find the mammogram uncomfortable; a small number may find it painful but the compression will only last a few seconds. The compression is necessary in order to detect early breast disease. If you are worried about the examination or have any questions, please ask the radiographer.

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What happens after my mammograms?

Your mammograms will be assessed by specialist clinical staff. Normally, you will then receive your result by post within 3 weeks of your appointment. Your GP will also be notified of the result. Most women will be invited again in 3 years time as part of the routine screening process. You may be invited back for further tests if this is felt to be necessary, but the vast majority of those invited back are found to be clear of any breast disease and will be returned to routine recall.

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What happens if I need wheelchair access?

It is possible to attend for screening at a mobile until with a manual wheelchair, but you will need to contact the screening centre in advance so appropriate arrangements can be made. (Contact details) However, it is not possible to attend a mobile until with an electric wheelchair.  If you are an electric wheelchair user you will need to discuss arrangements with the screening centre in advance of your appointment.

What happens if I have breast implants?

It is possible to have mammograms taken with breast implants, however, the screening centre will need to know in advance so appropriate arrangements can be made and the centre will also provide you with further information. This cannot be done on the mobile units, you will be asked to attend the screening centre. For more information please follow the link below:

Breast Implants: Your Screening Appointment Explained [462Kb, 1 page]

What happens if I would like to contact a Breast Screening Centre?

Please click on screening centres link.

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