Is breast screening the right choice for you?
For most women aged 50 to 74, having a breast screen is a really good option. Getting to know your risk factors may help you make a decision about having a breast screen.
Aged 50 to 74?
You should be screened every two years.
More than 75% of breast cancers occur in women over 50 and regular breast screens are the best way to find breast cancer early.
In your 40s or over 75?
Talk to your doctor to find out if breast screening is right for you.
Breast screens are not effective for women under 40 years.
Weighing up the risks and benefits of breast screening
Benefits of breast screening
- Regular screening prevents deaths from breast cancer.
- Breast screens can detect most cancers early – even before they can be felt or noticed.
- If breast cancer is found early, it is more likely to be small, and successfully treated.
- The earlier breast cancer is found, the better your chance of surviving it.
Potential risks of breast screening
- Having a breast screen means your breasts are exposed to a small amount of radiation. Current research shows that the benefits of having regular breast screens outweigh any possible risks from radiation.
- Breast screening is currently the most reliable means of detecting breast cancer but it is not perfect. There is a small chance that a breast screen will look normal, even if a breast cancer is present. A very small number of women are diagnosed with breast cancer between breast screens.
- Some women will be called back for more tests after a breast screen because the X-ray picture showed an abnormality. Most women who are invited to have further tests will not have cancer.
- Some women who have screening will be diagnosed and treated for breast cancer that would never have caused them harm. This is known as overdiagnosis. As we cannot tell which breast cancers may become life threatening, all women diagnosed with breast cancer are offered treatment.
- Screening may cause some women to feel anxious or worried particularly if they are asked to have a follow up test.
You can stop at any time
What is informed consent?
Informed consent is your voluntary decision about medical care, made with knowledge and understanding of the benefits and risks involved.
When you book a breast screen, you fill in a registration and consent form which gives informed consent. If you do not have the capacity to give informed consent, consent may be given by your legal medical agent or guardian.
You can withdraw consent
You can withdraw consent at any time throughout the procedure. If you are distressed or wish to stop, the breast screen should be halted and your concerns addressed.
Watch a breast screen
This short video shows you what happens at a breast screening appointment and talks about common concerns. Please contact us if you are still concerned after watching the video and we will be happy to help.
WARNING: Due to the nature of breast screening, this video contains nudity.