Breast screening

Currently all women between 50 years old and their 71st birthday who are registered with a GP are eligible for breast screening. This is currently according to a 3-year schedule. As the list is compiled from current GP records, it is important to make sure your registered details are correct.

The invitation is sent out automatically, so there is no need to phone and make your own appointment. Invitations for screening are sent approximately 3 weeks before the appointment time.

Women will be sent a letter and called to either the Florence Nightingale Community Hospital or to one of the mobile screening vans which are situated in one of 10 sites throughout the region.

Locations for the mobile units are as follows:

  • Alfreton
  • Ashbourne
  • Belper
  • Heanor
  • Hilton
  • Ilkeston
  • Litchfield
  • Long Eaton
  • Swadlincote
  • Tamworth
  • Uttoxeter
  • Wirksworth

Why we screen

The risk of breast cancer rises as women get older, this is why the NHS Breast Screening Programme targets women in this age group.

Breast screening can help to find small changes in the breast before there are any other signs or symptoms. Early detection may mean simpler and more successful treatment. The NHS Brea‚Äčst Screening Programme is an effective part of the UK's efforts to reduce the death toll from breast cancer. 

To help women make an informed choice about whether or not to come for breast screening, all eligible women now receive a leaflet, called "Breast Screening, the facts" with their invitation.

What happens on a routine breast screening appointment?

Every effort is made to minimise anxiety at all stages of screening.

At your appointment, the reception staff will confirm your details and give you information about how you will receive your results. You will then be asked to wait in the main waiting area. From the waiting area a mammographer (who will be a female radiographer)  will take you to a private changing room, where she will ask you some questions, such as;

  • Have you ever had surgery to your breasts?
  • Are you taking HRT? (hormone replacement therapy)
  • Do you currently have any under breast soreness (cracked/bleeding skin)
  • Do you examine your breasts frequently?
  • Do you have any current breast cancer symptoms?
  • If this is your first screening mammogram, have you had any previous mammograms or problems with your breasts?

You will then be taken directly into the x-ray room, where the mammographer will show you the equipment used to carry out the mammogram.

You will be able to ask the mammographer any questions you have about the test, although the mammographer does have a limited time to perform the mammogram. The mammographer usually takes two x-rays of each breast, with any additional x-rays, if required. During the mammogram, the mammographer will put you into the correct positions needed. If at any time you feel unsteady, tell the mammographer, who will offer you a special seat that you can sit on for your mammogram.

Obtaining the highest quality images of your breasts requires the breasts to be held firmly, (one at a time) between two flat plastic plates. The pressure can feel a little tight and uncomfortable, but should not really hurt and it only lasts a few seconds for each x-ray taken. After your mammogram, the mammographer will take you back to your room, where you will then be able to get dressed and leave the unit.

You will receive your results in the post within three weeks.

If you will be over 70 when your next screening mammogram is due, the mammographer will give you extra information and guidance about how to go about requesting an appointment.