South West London Breast Screening Programme
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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 to my place of work? Yes, we have a number of screening sites within South West London. (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 none of these sites are convenient for your place of work, please contact us by telephone on 020 8725 2723.
Can I change the date and time of my appointment? Yes, please complete the online change your appointment form or alternatively contact us to alter the date, time or location of your screening appointment. 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 contact us
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 been screened elsewhere shall I still keep my screening appointment? Please contact us for advice on whether you should attend for this screening appointment. Appointments
I have moved house, what happens to my screening appointment? If you have notified your practice of your new address you will be invited for screening when your practice is invited. If this is likely to be over three years since your last invitation you will be invited separately 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.
I missed 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 telephone the office on 020 8725 2723, and we will be happy to make you another appointment. Appointments
Why have I been recalled to assessment clinic after my screening mammogram? You have been called back to the breast assessment clinic because we need more detail about an area we have seen on your mammogram, or because of a symptom you reported at your screening appointment. Your breast x-rays (mammograms) did not give us enough information. Therefore you need a more detailed examination before we can decide on a result. Most changes that show up on breast x-rays are not a cause for concern.

Our assessment clinics are held at the Rose Centre, St Georges Hospital, Tooting click here for how to find us.

For further information on what happens at an assessment appointment go to
Why have I been sent to a different site this time? From time to time screening locations can change due to availability. If the site you have been called to is not convenient, you can request a new appointment using the change your appointment form.
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. Breast changes can occur at anytime and should be investigated promptly. Breast Symptoms
I have a family history of breast cancer, do I need to have mammograms more often? If you fear you are more at risk of breast cancer because of your family history 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. They will assess your risk and arrange extra screening if needed. Family History
Are mammograms safe? 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. Having a Mammogram
Can I bring someone with me? You are welcome to bring someone with you, but please be aware they will not be able to accompany you into the x-ray room. There is limited space in the waiting areas at some of our sites. 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 only finds cancer if it is already there, but it can find cancers at an early stage. This 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
I have a disability, how will this affect my screening appointment? Please contact us to discuss your appointment, as we may need to allocate more time for your screening. All of our screening sites have disabled access. Having a Mammogram
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. Having a Mammogram
I have a pacemaker, will this affect my mammogram? 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. Having a Mammogram
I have breast implants can I have a mammogram? Yes because you still have breast tissue, which should be screened. There is no evidence to suggest breast implants are damaged by mammograms.

Having a Mammogram
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. Having a Mammogram
What happens to my mammograms after screening? The NHS Breast Screening Programme will keep your mammograms for at least 8 years. These are saved securely. The screening programme regularly checks records to make sure the service is as good as possible. Staff in other parts of the health service may need to see your records for this. However, your records will only be shared with people who need to see them. 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 before you are aware of a problem. 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 separates instead of a dress. Having a Mammogram
When do I get my results? Your results will be sent to your home address and this 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 at one of our six screening sites across the region, usually at the one nearest to your GP Practice. Having a Mammogram
Who will take my mammogram? A female radiographer (mammographer) will always perform the x-ray. Having a Mammogram
What is a Core Biopsy? This is when a tissue sample is taken from the breast using a special sampling needle. Local anaesthetic is used for the procedure. Medical Terms
What is an Ultrasound? 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.
Medical Terms
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.
Medical Terms
What is Histology? The examination of tissues under the microscope to assist diagnosis. Medical Terms
I am 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 their appointment.
Older Women
I have had breast cancer in the past do I still need to come? We are happy to screen women who have had breast cancer. If you have recently had a mammogram please contact us for advice. Previous Breast Cancer
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. This is because 80% of all breast cancers occur in women over 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. This is so every woman will have her first screening mammogram by her 50th birthday. Routine screening in women below this age has not yet shown to be of benefit. Women below the aged of 50 should continue to be breast aware.
Timing of Breast Screening
What should I do between breast screens? You should continue to be breast aware, Look at and feel your breasts to learn what is normal for you. Report 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 earlier than the standard 3 years. If you believe its been more than 3 years since your last screening mammogram please contact us.
Timing of Breast Screening
Clinical Nurse Specialist (CNS) A specialist nurse who is available for information, advice and support for all women. If you would like to speak to a CNS please contact us. Who works in the Screening service
Consultant Radiologist An expert who specialises in imaging (x-rays and ultrasound). Consultant Radiologists in breast screening read your x-rays (mammograms) to give a result. They also perform ultrasound scans and biopsies if further tests are needed. Who works in the Screening service
Consultant Surgeon If further treatment is needed, women will be referred to a specialist breast surgeon at their local breast unit or a unit of their choice. Who works in the Screening service
Pathologist A doctor who specialises in the diagnosis of disease and conditions by examining cells and tissue under the microscope. Who works in the Screening service
Radiographer Takes the mammogram (x-ray). All radiographers working in the NHS Breast Screening Programme have undertaken specialist training in mammography. Who works in the Screening service
Specialist_Practitioner A radiographer who has undertaken further specialist training. The specialist practitioner works alongside the consultant radiologist and can read your x-rays, take biopsies and perform ultrasound scans. Who works in the Screening service