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Beds and Herts Breast Screening Service
Luton and Dunstable NHS Hospital

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

If you have a question please check the FAQs below. 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.

   
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Can I change the date and time of my appointment? Yes, please complete the online 'change appointment form' to alter the date, time or location of your screening appointment. Appointments
I don’t want to be screened, what do I do? 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.
Appointments
I have been invited to have a mammogram, but I have had a mammogram within the last year, do I still need to come? Please contact the screening unit using the contact us. page. Appointments
I have been screened elsewhere shall I still keep my screening appointment? Please contact us to establish if it is advisable for you to attend for this screening appointment. Appointments
I have moved house what happens to my screening appointment? 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 us.
Appointments
I missed my appointment how do I get another one? Please contact the screening unit using the 'contact us' page or by telephone, and we will be happy to make you another appointment. Appointments
Why have I been sent to a different site this time? 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.
Appointments
I have had breast cancer in the past do I still need to come? If you have had a breast cancer in the past and you are currently under the care of your breast team (follow-up), your breast team will arrange a mammogram for you. Breast Cancer Patients
I have a breast lump how do I make an appointment? If you have a breast lump or any other breast symptom you should see your GP, who may organise a referral to your local breast unit. Breast Symptoms
What should I do if I notice any breast changes? See your GP without delay even if you have had a recent mammogram. Do not wait until your next mammogram. Breast Symptoms
I am disabled, how do I arrange my screening appointment? 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. Disabilities
I have a family history of breast cancer, do I need to have mammograms more often? 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. Family History
Are Mammograms Safe? 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 a cancer is far outweighed by the benefits of early detection of breast cancer.
Having a Mammogram
Can I bring someone with me? Yes. Please be aware that there is limited space at some of our screening sites particularly the mobile screening vans. In the interest of privacy men and children are not allowed on the mobile screening units. Having a Mammogram
Does a mammogram hurt? 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.
Having a Mammogram
Does breast screening prevent breast cancer? 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.
Having a Mammogram
How long will the mammogram take? A mammogram takes a few minutes, however your whole visit to the screening unit may take about half an hour.
Having a Mammogram
What is a mammogram? 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.
Having a Mammogram
What shall I wear for my appointment? 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. Having a Mammogram
When do I get my results? Your results will be sent to your home address and should be within 2 weeks. You will be advised of any expected delays at the time of your screening. Having a Mammogram
Where will the mammogram be done? Your mammogram will be performed either at a mobile screening unit or at our centre in Luton Having a Mammogram
Who will take my mammogram? A female Mammographer will always perform the x-ray. Having a Mammogram
I have a pacemaker, can I have a mammogram? Yes, it is safe for you to have a mammogram. It is helpful if you can tell the mammographer where your pacemaker is sited. Pacemakers & Breast Implants
I have a pacemaker, will this affect my mammogram? 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. Pacemakers & Breast Implants
I have breast implants will this affect my mammogram? 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. If you have implants and have been made an appointment at the mobile screening unit please contact the screening unit on 01582 497599. Your appointment will need to be changed to the screening centre at Luton as the films will need to be processed immediately after the mammogram being taken. Pacemakers & Breast Implants
I have implants should I still have a mammogram? 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 been invited to one of the mobile vans then 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 at Luton.
Pacemakers & Breast Implants
What does 'Aspiration' mean? Removing fluid from a lump (or cyst) using a fine needle.
Terminology
What is a Biopsy? A Biopsy - a small area of breast tissue may be removed and examined under the microscope. This is carried out under local anaesthetic. Terminology
What is an Ultrasound? 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.
Terminology
What is Cytology? 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.
Terminology
What is histology? 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. Terminology
I am 50 why have I not received my appointment? 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.
Timing of Breast Screening
I am 75 can I have an appointment? Yes. The risk of getting breast cancer increases as women get older and we encourage women over 70 to continue with three yearly screening. All women over the age of 70 need to contact us to arrange an appointment.
Timing of Breast Screening
I am under 50 can I have an appointment? Currently the breast screening programme does not screen women under the age of 50. Over the next few years we will gradually extend the breast screening programme to include women from the age of 47. Women below this age will not be routinely screened.

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 breast unit. The family history clinic will assess your need for extra mammographic screening.
Timing of Breast Screening
What should I do between breast screens? 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.
Timing of Breast Screening
Why is my screening invitation not exactly 3 years since my last appointment? From time to time changes to the screening plan result in women receiving an appointment slightly later or earlier than the normal 3 year interval.
Timing of Breast Screening
Breast Screening Nurse Offers support and information to women and their relatives at the clinic.
Who works in the Screening service
Breast Screening Unit Receptionist Confirms woman’s details (as per her appointment letter) and collates your paperwork ready for the radiographer. Who works in the Screening service
Consultant Radiologist and Breast Physician View x-rays to decide which other tests may be needed. Undertake breast examination,ultrasound and breast biopsy. Discuss likely diagnosis with clients
Who works in the Screening service
Pathologist 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. Who works in the Screening service
Radiographer Carries out the mammography on X-ray machines. Radiographers may also assist radiologists, and perform breast biopsy. Who works in the Screening service
Surgeon 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). Who works in the Screening service