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Breast Screening for women at moderately increased risk of breast cancer due to family history

Patient information A-Z

You have been assessed by the clinical genetics team as being at moderate risk of developing breast cancer when compared to the general population because of your family history. Women at higher risk of breast cancer are offered breast screening at an earlier age than women from the general population. We call this ‘surveillance screening’.

What additional screening will I be offered?

We will offer you annual screening until you are 50 when you will enter the ‘routine’ national breast screening programme which is every three years. Women get their first routine screening invitation sometime between their 50th and 53rd birthdays.

Mammography (X-rays of the breasts)

You can find out more about mammography in the information available with, or signposted from, your screening invitation. This information is available to all women invited to NHS breast screening. It includes an explanation of the possible benefits and disadvantages of screening. The information ‘NHS Breast Screening - helping you decide’ is available online at

When do breast screening invitations stop?

All breast screening invitations stop at the age of 71.

You can continue to have screening from the age of 71 by contacting us to make an appointment. You can request an appointment every three years.

Changes to your breasts

No screening method can detect every cancer, and cancer can develop in between screening appointments.

If you notice any unusual changes in your breasts, please speak to your doctor (GP) as soon as possible. Do not wait for your next screening appointment.

Being breast aware

All women should be breast aware. This means knowing how your breasts normally look and feel, and reporting any unusual changes to your doctor as soon as possible. We advise following the ‘touch look check’ (TLC) three simple steps:

  • TOUCH your breasts. Can you feel anything unusual?
  • LOOK for changes. Is there any change in shape or texture?
  • CHECK anything unusual with your doctor.

(TLC information reproduced by permission of Breast Cancer Now.)

More information

The NHS website has more information about NHS breast screening.

Cancer Research UK has information about breast cancer risks, including family history and genetic risk.

What if I may be/am pregnant or breast feeding?

The radiation dose to the abdomen during mammography is extremely low, so you could still be screened by mammography. The breasts change during pregnancy and breast feeding so there is a very small increase in the radiation dose to the breasts. The breast changes also make it harder to find small cancers so the test is less accurate. You may prefer to wait until you know you are not pregnant or you have stopped breast feeding.

What if I do not want regular screening?

You do not have to choose screening now. You will be invited automatically for mammography screening after the age of 50 by the NHS Breast Screening Programme. Read information about how to opt out of screening on the Government website.

If you change your mind before then and decide that you do wish to have screening, please contact the Administration Team on 01223 217627.

For further information please contact the Director of Screening via the Administration Team on 10223 217627.

We are smoke-free

Smoking is not allowed anywhere on the hospital campus. For advice and support in quitting, contact your GP or the free NHS stop smoking helpline on 0800 169 0 169.

Other formats

Help accessing this information in other formats is available. To find out more about the services we provide, please visit our patient information help page (see link below) or telephone 01223 256998.

Contact us

Cambridge University Hospitals
NHS Foundation Trust
Hills Road, Cambridge

Telephone +44 (0)1223 245151