Breast screening

What is breast screening?

Mammogram imageBreast screening is a method of detecting breast cancer at a very early stage. The first step involves an x-ray of each breast - a mammogram - which is taken while carefully compressing the breast. Most women find it a bit uncomfortable and a few find it painful. The mammogram can detect small changes in breast tissue which may indicate cancers which are too small to be felt either by the woman herself or by a doctor.

When will I be screened?

The NHS Breast Screening Programme is a rolling one which calls women from doctors' practices in turn. This means not every woman receives her invitation as soon as she is 50. It will be sometime between the ages of 50 and 53. If you are registered with a GP and the practice has your correct details, then you will automatically receive an invitation. You don't need to contact anyone but you might like to ask your surgery when the women on their list are next due for screening.

Where will I be screened?

Cambridge and Huntingdon Breast Screening Unit is incorporated in the Cambridge Breast Unit. Screening Mammography is carried out on the mobile mammography units which travel to the various sites in Cambridgeshire. A small number of appointments are offered to special needs clients in the Breast Unit on the Addenbrooke’s site.

Mobile screening unit

Screening Sites for the Cambridge and Huntingdon Breast Screening Service

Exact site will be listed in your screening invitation letter.
Screening sites used by the C&HBS mobile mammography unit are:

Mobile Site


Post code





Health Centre

PE26 1BP

St Neots

Tesco Superstore

PE19 2HD or 2SA


Hinchingbrooke Hospital

PE29 6NT

St Ives

Park and Ride

PE27 4LG


Village College



Park and Ride



Regional College




CB24 6AY


Village College

CB22 3BP



How often will I be screened?

The NHS Breast Screening Programme provides free breast screening every three years for all women in the UK aged 50 and over. Around one-and-a-half million women are screened in the UK each year. Women aged between 50 and 70 are now routinely invited.

I am over 70 what happens to me?

The NHS Breast Screening Programme will extend the age range of women eligible for breast screening to ages 47 to 73 over time. The current age range is 50 to 70. An extra 200,000 women a year will be screened. At present women over 70 are eligible for mammography but are required to make their own appointment at 3 yearly intervals.

Radiographer taking a mammogram

What to expect at an appointment ?

A visit to a screening unit for breast screening takes about fifteen minutes. The woman is greeted by a receptionist or female mammography practitioner who checks her personal details (name, age and address). The mammography practitioner asks the woman about any symptoms or history of breast disease, explains what will happen when the mammograms are taken, and answers any questions about breast screening. If the woman is happy to proceed, the mammography practitioner then takes the mammogram.

She explains when and how the woman will get her results, and reminds her of the need to be breast aware between screening appointments. If it is the woman's last routine screening invitation, the mammography practitioner also reminds her that she can ask for another screening appointment in three years' time.

All mammograms are checked for quality. Occasionally you may be recalled for a film to be repeated if the images are not deemed of sufficient quality for reporting.

All screening mammograms are double reported by trained mammography readers at least one of whom will be a Consultant Breast Radiologist.


Family history screening

At present we are working with the Primary Care Trust so we will be able to offer a screening service for women who are at high risk of getting breast cancer because of their family history.


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