We use full field digital mammography equipment to image your breasts (i.e. create a mammogram).
Breast screening has been shown to detect breast cancer early and save lives, by giving a better prognosis due to early detection.
A mammogram is an image of the breast tissue created using x-rays.
It will involve the mammographer positioning each of your breasts in two views; you will be guided through the positioning to obtain the best image possible.
Compression will be applied to your breast, gently but firmly in order to hold the breast still.
Usually the mammogram takes four images; sometimes it may be necessary to do more.
Mammography detects most breast cancers and is the most effective way of screening for breast cancer. However some breast cancers are not detected on mammography, these cancers are known as mammographically occult.
If you have recently felt any changes in your breasts, it is important to let the mammographer know - for more information, please see the UK Government website: Breast screening: helping women decide.
Currently the breast screening age is 50-70; but your first screening appointment could be any time from just before your 50th to before your 53rd birthday.
You will be called for screening when we screen your GP practice and this is done every three years.
We have been involved in a national trial called AgeX that randomly selected women from age 47 and up to 73, but this has now closed - please see the AgeX website.
Women who are aged over 70 can arrange an appointment themselves every three years if they wish to continue breast screening.
Please contact the Breast Centre if you wish to make an appointment.
Some women will be asked to come to the Breast Centre at the Great Western Hospital for their Breast Screening appointment.
Most women will be called to one of our two mobile screening units that travel to different sites around the area so that women can be screened near to where they live.
When you are due to attend for screening an invitation will be sent to you with the date time and location of the unit you need to attend, a useful map can be found on the back of your letter with parking information if required.
It is your choice whether to have breast screening or not.
For more information to help you decide, please see the UK Government website: Breast screening: helping women decide.
If you decide that screening is not for you please, contact the Breast Centre.
If you are going on holiday shortly after your breast screening appointment it may be better to delay your appointment until after your return, please contact the Breast Centre.
Alternatively please advise the mammographer when you will be away, this is just in case we need to see you again and this could delay your results.
If this is your first mammogram with Wiltshire Breast Screening and you have had a previous mammogram before please bring details of where and when the mammogram was.
If it was within the last six months, please contact the Breast Centre to change your appointment as it may not be necessary for you to attend.
If you have had a mammogram since your last screening mammogram with Wiltshire Breast screening please bring details of when and where this was, if it was in the last six months please contact the Breast Centre to change the appointment as it may not be necessary for you to attend.
If your last mammogram was abroad and you have the mammogram images, either films or images saved digitally on a CD please bring these along to your appointment, we shall arrange for you to collect them at a later date.
If you have been referred to a hospital for breast problems by your GP, please attend the hospital appointment and contact the Breast Centre for advice.
It is important that you inform us that you have implants in order that the technique we use can be adapted for your needs, please contact the Breast Centre.
If you have advised us before then you do not need to call again. Screening is not a check on your implants but a check on your breast tissue.
Not all breast tissue is visible when imaging breasts that have been augmented with an implant, as the implant obscures some of the tissue.
Extra views will be taken called Ekland views to enable us to see as much tissue as possible.
It is important to be breast aware and if you notices changes to your breasts then consult your GP.
If you think your implant is newly ruptured then you need to make an appointment to see your GP for a hospital referral.
You will be given a leaflet and an explanation about implants and mammography, you will be asked to sign a declaration that you have had this explanation and you are happy to proceed with the mammogram.
For more information, please see the NHS Breast Screening Programme: Breast implants and breast screening leaflet.
Pacemakers are not affected by the x-rays used in mammography.
It is important that you inform us that you have or a cardiac device of any sort implanted in your breasts or high on your chest wall.
This is in order that we do not compress the device and adapt our technique in order to get the best possible images of your breast tissue for you; this may require us to take extra views, please contact the Breast Centre.
You will only need to do this once, if you have advised us before then you do not need to call again.
If you have mobility issue then please contact the Breast Centre.
Our mobile screening units have stairs up into the unit and are not suitable for women who have mobility problems or use walking aids.
There is very limited space on the unit and it is not suitable for women who are unable to undress and dress themselves.
A more tailored appointment can be given to you attend the Breast Centre, giving you more time and where more staff are available to assist.
If you have a mobility issue and use a wheelchair, please contact the Breast Centre - our mobile screening units have stairs up into the unit and are not suitable for women who use a wheelchair.
A more tailored appointment can be given to you to attend the Breast Centre at The Great Western Hospital, giving you more time and where more staff are available to assist.
If you would like an appointment longer than five minutes, then please contact the Breast Centre and advise them of the specific issue.
A more tailored appointment can be given to you and if necessary to attend the Breast Centre at The Great Western Hospital, giving you more time, where more staff are available to assist.
If you are a carer and wish to use our leaflet with your client, please see the UK Government website: Breast screening: easy guide.
Individuals who are undergoing female to male gender reassignment will continue to be invited for breast screening so long as they are registered as a woman.
The exceptions are if they ask to be ceased from the programme or have had a bilateral mastectomy.
Individuals who are undergoing male to female gender reassignment may be screened by asking their GP to request a screening appointment on their behalf.
Individuals who are registered with a gender of indeterminate or female will be sent a screening invitation unless they ask to be ceased from the programme.
For more guidance, please see the UK Government website: NHS population screening: information for transgender people.
When attending for breast screening please wear suitable clothing as you will be required to undress to the waist, a cardigan or scarf is useful to drape around you while you are waiting in the changing cubical.
We do not provide gowns for breast screening.
We require you to have clean skin when you have your mammogram, so ask that you avoid using deodorants, lotions, talc and creams as these can leave a residue on your skin that can affect the quality of your mammogram.
We do provide wipes in the changing cubical, but if at all possible please do not use anything on your skin the morning of your mammogram.
If you have long hair or product on your hair (e.g. hairspray or styling gel), we may ask that you tie your hair back in order that your hair does not show on the image and affect the quality of the image taken.
It may be worth having something with you in case it is required.
It is important that we use sufficient compression to your breasts in order to hold your breast still and prevent a blurred image, as this will affect the quality of the image that is produced.
Compression also reduces the amount of radiation dose that you receive when acquiring the image.
For most women this causes a little discomfort and some a bit more, but the majority of women do not find this painful.
If you have tender breasts, are premenstrual, or have had a painful experience before please advise the mammographer when you go to your appointment.