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University Hospitals Dorset NHS Foundation Trust

Your breast screening appointment

What is breast screening and how is it done?

Breast screening at Dorset Breast Screening Unit uses by full field digital mammography x-ray to image your breasts.

Why should I come for breast screening?

Breast screening has been shown to detect breast cancer and save lives. Screening is practised worldwide and the programme has been running in the UK since the early 1990s. Use the link on the right hand side of page to find out more.

Do I need to do anything for my appointment?

We will ask you to undress to the waist so please wear suitable clothing. We require you to have your skin clean, dry and free from all lotions. The use of deodorants and talcum powder can affect the quality of the mammogram taken. If your hair is likely to fall over your face during the procedure we may ask you to tie it back to ensure your image is of diagnostic quality.

Is screening harmful?

Please use the link on the right to find out more about the risks involved with breast screening.

Does having a mammogram hurt?

We only compress the breast for a few seconds and the majority of women do not find this painful. If you are concerned, please speak to a member of staff when you come for your appointment.

How accurate is screening?

Mammography will not detect all breast cancers. However, currently it is the most effective way of screening for breast cancer.

How often do we screen women?

In the UK, the NHS National Breast Screening Programme invites women approximately every three years.

What ages are routinely invited?

The Dorset Breast Screening Unit currently invites women aged between 50 and 70 who are registered with a Dorset GP.

Women can be invited for their first screening between the ages of 47 and 53 so don’t worry if you are 52 and have not yet been called. We invite women for screening by GP practice and not by postcode.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, self-referrals for ladies aged 71 and over for a routine mammogram will not be available. Ladies are advised to contact their GP should they notice any breast symptoms.

How and when will my results be given to me?

We do not give results out by phone. We usually send results out by post and aim to have contacted you within 14 days. A small number of women will be invited to attend the second stage of screening and this invitation may be by telephone or letter. A small number of women will be asked to re-attend for a ‘technical repeat’ and this invitation may be by telephone, letter or as a last resort we will contact your GP.

I have been asked to come for a ‘technical repeat.’ What does this mean?

We are unable to prevent all technical faults. This may be due to positioning; equipment fault or the image may not be of diagnostic quality. We apologise for the inconvenience this may cause. We will try to contact you by telephone if possible, but may write to you to invite you for a ‘technical’ repeat. If we cannot make contact with you by telephone or you do not reply to our letter we will contact your GP.

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