Breast screening by regular mammography can detect breast cancer at an early stage and lead to less treatment and improved survival. Breast screening is only suitable for women with no breast symptoms.
Our digital screening mammography service is suitable for women from age 40 onwards, and includes yearly mammograms from aged 40-49, and every two years from age 50 onwards. Women with a family history of breast cancer may be eligible to start screening at age 35, or have more frequent screening or MRI scanning, following discussion with Professor Wishart.
Our screening mammograms are assessed by two breast radiologists who work in the NHS breast screening programme to provide the highest quality reporting. If you would like to discuss your family history of breast and/or ovarian cancer, or if you would like to discuss starting a breast screening programme, then click here to make your screening appointment.
Screening mammography involves taking an x-ray picture of each breast while it is being gently compressed. Although it can cause mild discomfort in some women, it can detect breast cancer at an early stage before changes can be felt in the breast by you or your doctor. Because screening mammography can detect breast cancer at an early stage, it has helped to reduce the number of deaths from breast cancer in the UK and other countries.
Mammography will not pick up all breast cancers however. In women over 50 the sensitivity (chance of detecting breast cancer) of this test is around 85% but under age 50, it can be much lower due to the presence of more dense breast tissue. The dose of radiation from modern mammography is very low and as a result, very safe. Click here to make your screening mammography appointment.
Breast MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) is a very specialized non-invasive scan that uses magnetic fields to determine what the inside of the breast looks like. The scan does not involve any exposure to radiation, but does require you to lie flat on your stomach for up to one hour in the MRI scanner. Although the scan is very sensitive at detecting breast cancer it can also give rise to a number of uncertain findings that may require additional investigation. As a result, MRI scanning of the breast is currently only recommended for breast screening in women with a very strong family history of breast cancer, in women who have inherited a BRCA gene or as an additional investigation in women with clinical or mammographic abnormalities.
Women with a family history of breast cancer may be eligible to have MRI scanning following discussion with Professor Wishart. Click here to make an appointment to discuss MRI scanning.