What happens when you come for routine screening

Mammography screening roomYour visit to a mobile unit for breast screening takes about half an hour.

You will be greeted by a member of staff, who will check your appointment and personal details.

The radiographer will ask you about any symptoms or history of breast disease that you may have, explain what happens during the mammogram and answers any questions about breast screening.

If you are happy to proceed, the radiographer then takes two x-rays of each breast (a mammogram). Once this is completed, the examination is finished.

Having your mammogram

Each breast is positioned in turn on the x-ray machine and carefully but firmly compressed with a clear plate. 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 image with the lowest amount of radiation possible.

Some women find compression slightly uncomfortable and some feel short-lived pain. Research has shown that for most women it is less painful than having a blood test and compares with having blood pressure measured.

Radiation from your mammogram

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. The radiation dose delivered by mammograms is continually monitored to ensure that it remains as low as possible whilst still providing a good quality image.