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.

Having 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.

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.

A female Mammographer will always perform the x-ray.

A mammogram takes a few minutes, however your whole visit to the screening unit will take about half an hour.

Any x-ray involves radiation but mammograms only require a very low dose. It is about the same as the dose a person receives by flying from London to Australia and back. The risk that such a low dose could cause a cancer is far outweighed by the benefits of early detection of 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.

Your mammogram will be performed either at a mobile screening van or permanent unit within a building, at one of our local screening sites.

It is advisable to wear separates, i.e. skirt and blouse/jumper or trousers and blouse/jumper. After the radiographer has checked your details; you will be taken through to a changing room and asked to undress to the waist and put on your blouse or jumper to cover up whilst waiting for your x-ray. Once in the x-ray room there will only be yourself and the female radiographer.
We do not have changing rooms at our hospital sites, you will be asked to undress once you are in the x-ray room.
If you do wear a dress we have gowns you can use to cover up and then tie around your waist during the mammogram. We also have privacy capes available if you would like one, you will be required to remove this during the mammogram. We want the mammogram to be a good experience so we will do everything we can to maintain your privacy and dignity throughout.

If your appointment is at one of our hospital sites you are welcome to bring someone to wait in the waiting room with you. It would not be possible for them to go into the x-ray room with you.
On our Mobile unit and at Bath Street we keep our waiting room for breast screening patients only, this is due to limited space and helps us to maintain privacy and dignity. You are welcome to bring someone with you but they will have to wait outside of the unit.
Please be aware our staff are unable to supervise any children while you are having your mammogram.

Your results should be sent to you within 2 weeks. You will be advised of any expected delays at the time of your screening.

Unfortunately we are unable to allow friends or relatives to act as a translator.  Please let us know if you need a translator so we can book an appropriate appointment for you.  This will be at one of our hospital sites and we will normally use a telephone translator.  If any further tests are required, we will normally book an interpreter to come to the department.


Please contact the screening unit using the 'contact us' page or by telephone, and we will advise you.

Please contact the screening unit using the 'contact us' page or by telephone, and we will be happy to make you another appointment.

Yes, please complete the online 'change appointment form' to alter the date, time or location of your screening appointment and a new appointment will be sent to you.  It is helpful if you confirm information such as dates you are on holiday in the relevant information section.

Please contact us to establish if it is advisable for you to attend for this screening appointment.

If you have notified your GP practice of your new address you will be called for screening when your practice is called. If this is likely to be over three years since your last invitation you will be called seperately from your practice to ensure you are screened on time.
If you have moved house and fear you may have missed a screening appointment please contact us.

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 appointment.

Yes, we screen in a number of other local places. (View alternative locations for your screening appointment). If these sites are not convenient for your place of work, please contact us

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.

Time of Breast Screening

It would not be recommended that you attend your appointment at this time, please contact us to cancel and re-arrange when your situation changes. Contact us.

At present 3 yearly screening is recommended by the NHS Breast Screening Service.

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.

Yes. The risk of getting breast cancer increases as women get older and we encourage women over 73 to continue with three yearly screening. All women over the age of 73 need to contact us to arrange an appointment.

From time to time changes to the screening schedule occur to ensure that every woman receives an appointment within 3 years. This can sometimes result in a small number of women receiving an appointment earlier than expected.

Currently some women will be invited from age 47 as part of the age extension trial. 

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.

Women with Disabilities

Please contact us to discuss your screening appointment, as we would like to allocate more time for your appointment. Your appointment will be made at one of our static screening units, where we have larger rooms and disabled access. If you require transport for your appointment, please contact us and we can provide the details for the Patient Transport Service.

If you use a wheelchair or are unsteady on your feet we have a special chair we can use to do your mammogram. If the arms come off your own wheelchair we may also be able to do the mammogram in your own wheelchair.

Familiarization sessions are also available if you are unsure about coming for a mammogram and want to see the equipment and meet our staff  beforehand - please contact us so we can arrange this.

Pacemakers & Breast Implants

You can still have a mammogram done if you have implants, please let the radiographer know at the start of the appointment so we can adapt our technique. Before the mammogram the radiographer will ask you some questions about your breast implants including what year you had the surgery and what type of implants you have and ask you to sign a consent form to say you are happy to continue with the procedure.

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.

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.

Breast Symptoms

See your GP without delay even if you have had a recent mammogram. Do not wait until your next mammogram.

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.

Family History

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.

Breast Cancer Patients


Yes as your risk of breast cancer is slightly higher if you have previously had breast cancer.

Who works in the Screening service

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.

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).

Offers support and information to women and their relatives at the clinic. Also arranges admission for surgery, if necessary.

Undertake ultrasound, Fine Needle Aspirations and view x-rays to decide what other tests may be needed. They also liaise closely with pathologists and surgeons regarding diagnosis.

Undertakes clinical examination (e.g. physical examination) of the breast and liaises closely with pathologists and surgeons regarding diagnosis.

Carries out the mammography on X-ray machines. Radiographers may also assist radiologists undertake ultrasound and other procedures.

Welcomes ladies to the unit and confirms details (as per her appointment letter).


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.

A Biopsy - a small area of breast tissue may be removed and examined under the microscope. This is carried out under local anaesthetic.

An utltrasound 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.

Removing fluid from a lump (or cyst) using a fine needle.

The examination of tissues 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.