Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

If you have a question please check the FAQs below. Click on the FAQ heading to view the whole text

If you still can't find the answer you're looking for then please feel free to contact us and we will be happy to try and help.

Any x-ray involves radiation but mammograms only require a very low dose. It is about the same as the dose a person receives by flying from London to Australia and back. The risk that such a low dose could cause cancer is far outweighed by the benefits of early detection of breast cancer.
Offers support and information to women and their relatives at the clinic.
Confirms your details (as per your appointment letter) and collates your paperwork ready for the radiographer.
Due to Covid we would ask you to attend your screening appointment alone.
Yes, please complete the online appointment request form to request a change to the date, time or location of your screening appointment. You may also telephone us on

For further information please contact us
Views x-rays to decide which other tests may be needed. Undertakes breast examination, ultrasound and breast biopsy. Discusses likely diagnosis with clients.
Some women find mammography uncomfortable and some find it painful, as the breasts have to be held firmly in position and pressed to take a good x-ray. If you do experience pain it usually only lasts as long as the mammogram, although it may continue for some time in a small number of women.
No. Breast screening aims to find breast cancer at an early stage when it may be too small for you or your doctor to feel. Finding breast cancer early greatly increases your chances of successful treatment.
A mammogram takes a few minutes, however your whole visit to the screening unit may take about half an hour.
Once every three years your GP practice will be contacted and all women between the ages of 50 and 70 will be routinely invited. Not every woman will receive an appointment as soon as she is 50. You will receive your first appointment before your 53rd birthday.
Please contact us to discuss your screening appointment, as we would like to allocate more time for your appointment. Your appointment will be made at our screening centre in Luton where we have larger rooms and disabled access.
If you are over 70 and have not been screened for over 3 years, you are encouraged to continue with Breast Screening. Please contact the Beds & Herts Breast Service on to book an appointment.
Currently the breast screening programme does not routinely screen all women under the age of 50.

If you have a family history of breast cancer please see your GP who may refer you to a family history clinic at your local hospital. The family history clinic will assess your need for extra mammographic screening.

All women should continue to be breast aware.
We respect your decision not to be screened, although we would encourage all women to attend for breast screening when invited. However if you choose not to take up your invitation please contact the screening office so your appointment is not wasted.
If you change your mind at any point in the future please contact us. We will be happy to make you another appointment.

If you have a breast lump or any other breast symptom you should see your GP, who may organise a referral to the breast service at your local hospital.
If you think you are in a high risk group, you should discuss this with your GP. Your GP can advise you further and may refer you to a family history clinic at your local Breast Unit.
Yes, it is safe for you to have a mammogram. It is helpful if you can tell the mammographer where your pacemaker is sited.
Your pacemaker may hide the small area of breast tissue behind the pacemaker, preventing it from being seen on the x-ray. The film readers will only be able to report on the breast tissue that they can see on your mammogram.
Please contact the screening unit using the contact us page to establish if it is advisable for you to attend for the screening appointment.
Breast implants appear as a solid white area on a mammogram. This may hide some of the breast tissue preventing it from being seen on the x-ray. The film readers will only be able to report on the breast tissue that they can see on your mammogram.
We will continue to invite you every 3 years. If you are still under care please contact the breast screening office to cancel this appointment and advise us that you are still under care.
Yes because you still have breast tissue, which should be screened. There is no evidence to suggest breast implants are damaged by mammograms.
If you have notified your practice of your new address you will be invited for screening when your practice is invited. If this is likely to be over three years since your last invitation you will be invited separately from your practice to ensure you are screened on time.

If you have moved house and fear you may have missed a screening appointment please contact the screening unit using the contact us page and we will be happy to make you another appointment.
Please contact the screening unit using the contact us page and we will be happy to make you another appointment.
A Pathologist is an expert in interpreting tissue samples e.g. any tests that involve taking a small sample of breast tissue will be sent to a pathologist for interpretation. Most tissue samples need to be processed in the laboratory before the results can be given
Carries out the mammography on X-ray machines. Radiographers may also assist radiologists, and perform breast biopsy

Please note that all our Radiographers are female.
Please speak to your GP prior to booking your screening appointment.
It is recommended to delay your mammogram until three months post pregnancy and/or breastfeeding.
Please contact the screening unit before your appointment using the contact us page if you are pregnant or are breastfeeding.
If anybody needs further treatment they will be referred to a Breast Surgeon in one of the local hospitals (as preferred by the individual patient)
Removing fluid from a lump (or cyst) using a fine needle.
A Biopsy - a small area of breast tissue may be removed and examined under the microscope. This is carried out under local anaesthetic.
A mammogram is an x-ray examination of the breasts and is a method of finding breast cancer at a very early stage. A female mammographer will compress your breasts, one at a time between two special x-ray plates and take the x-rays. The compression only lasts a few seconds and does not cause any harm to the breasts. Compression is needed to keep the breast still and to get the clearest picture with the lowest amount of radiation possible.
An utltrasound is a scan which shows a picture of the tissues within the breast. It uses sound waves to create an image of the breast tissue.
Cytology – where a few cells may be removed from your breast with a very fine needle and examined under a microscope. This test is similar to having blood taken.
The examination of tissues under the microscope to assist diagnosis. For example, after a biopsy is performed, a pathologist will perform a "histological" evaluation, which means the tissue collected will be analysed for any abnormalities.
You will be asked to undress completely down to your waist so it is a good idea to wear a separate top instead of a dress.
You should continue to be breast aware learning what is normal for you and reporting any changes or concerns to your GP without delay. Do not wait until your next mammogram. Breast screening will pick up most but not all breast cancer.
See your GP without delay even if you have had a recent mammogram. Do not wait until your next mammogram.
Your results will be sent to your home address and this should be within 3 weeks. You will be advised of any expected delays at the time of your screening.
Your mammogram will be performed either at a mobile screening unit or at our centre in Luton

A female Mammographer will always perform the x-ray.
From time to time screening locations can change due to availability. If the site you have been called to is not convenient then request a change of appointment using the appointment request form.
From time to time changes to the screening plan results in women receiving an appointment slightly later or earlier than the normal 3 year interval.
Manage your appointment

If you have been sent an appointment but would like to change it, we will be very happy to arrange this for you.

Change or cancel your appointment

Where we screen

We screen at various convenient places across the region.

Where we screen


Our mobile vans are open with some restrictions in place.

COVID-19 policy


We have a selection of answers to frequently asked questions

Frequently asked questions (FAQs)