What is it?

Breast cancer screening is a test that checks for early signs of breast cancer. Finding breast cancer early means treatment can start early. A breast cancer screen involves scanning the breasts using an X-ray test called a mammogram. This can find cancers that are too small to feel during a self exam of the breast.

You go to a screening clinic or specialists’ office to have the screen. Two to four weeks after your screen, you will receive your results. If your results are normal, you may not need your next screen for two years. If your results show that you may need more tests, your GP will contact you to discuss next steps.

Women who are most likely to benefit from breast cancer screening are those aged 50 to 69 years. Discuss screening and your breast cancer risk with your GP.

What will my GP do now?

You and your GP may discuss how screening tests work. Your GP may discuss the reasons why you might have the tests. You will also get tools and supports to help you decide. If you have a family member who has had cancer, your GP may refer you to a specialist. You do not have to have a breast cancer screening test. You can choose to have the test whenever you like.

What will my GP do in the future?

Your GP may discuss your screening results with you. If you have a risk of breast cancer in your family, you may decide if you want to have any more testing in future.

Your GP will give you more advice about other types of breast cancer tests you can have. They may refer you to a clinic to have these tests done.

Your GP may also discuss your options if your test results show a result that is not normal.

What can I do?

Tell your GP if you know about any cancer in your family history. Read through the advice and leaflets your GP gives you. If you are worried or have questions, speak to your GP or breast screening clinic nurse. Waiting for test results can be hard but try not to feel anxious. Keep in mind that screening tests do not confirm cancer. They can only tell you if there is a low or high risk, or something that may not be normal.