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Breast Screening - further information

The NHS Breast Screening programme is a service for all well women aged between 50 and 71 years old.

The Oxford Breast Imaging Centre (OBIC) screening office will send you an invitation letter offering a specific appointment time, an information leaflet, and details of how to re-arrange the appointment if necessary.

If you do not attend, they will write to you again, and let your GP Practice know, so that they can discuss screening with you when they next see you.

If you then decide you would like to attend for screening, you can contact them directly to book an appointment.

Mammography screening process

The screening process involves compressing each breast between plastic plates for a few seconds, while an X-ray is taken.

The Radiographer will explain this in more detail at the appointment. Some women find this uncomfortable, although most find the pressure acceptable.

You can ask the Radiographer to stop the screening at any time - the decision to proceed is yours. Unfortunately, ultrasound is not a technically viable alternative to mammography.


All mammograms are classified 'normal' or 'abnormal'. Some may need to be repeated for technical reasons before being classified.

'Normal' result

If your result is 'normal' we will write to you within three weeks to let you know, and we will invite you for screening in three years' time, if you are still eligible. We will notify your GP.

'Abnormal' result

If any abnormality is detected we will invite you to the Assessment Clinic within two weeks - we will make you an appointment as soon as possible, as you may feel some anxiety. We will notify your GP.

Special circumstances


If you have difficulty walking up steps to enter a mobile unit, we can make an appointment for you at the Churchill Hospital or Nuffield Orthopaedic Centre where help is available.

If you would prefer to come to the Churchill Hospital or Nuffield Orthopaedic Centre rather than a mobile unit in your local area, please contact us to arrange this.

Breast implants

If you have reconstruction breast implants following complete mastectomy, you do not need to attend screening. If you have one reconstruction implant, that side does not need mammography, but your other breast should be screened.

If you have cosmetic breast implants, please do attend for screening. If you are invited for screening and have implants, please call us to let us know.

Breast cancer

If you have had breast cancer before receiving your invitation, you can attend for screening if you have not had a mammogram anywhere else within the last six months.

If you are under care for breast cancer and are having follow-up mammograms, you will be called annually. Attend these appointments, and cancel the appointment we have sent you for routine screening.

Please contact us for a confidential discussion if you need any further information.

Family history

If you have a family history of breast cancer, please contact your GP to discuss referral to a genetics clinic.

Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT)

Taking HRT does not require additional screening.


Radiography of all kinds offers a theoretical risk, balanced against the benefit of having the procedure. Mammography uses low-dose radiation in which the risk is minimal.

The Royal College of Radiologists provides the following statement:

"The risk of radiation-induced breast cancer as a result of mammography is mainly theoretical and is so small as to be negligible when compared with proven benefits of early detection of the disease. At worst the risk of developing breast cancer as a result of undergoing mammography has been calculated as one chance in a million."

Radiation risk is age-related, so the risk to women aged over 35 is considerably lower and approaches zero.

Symptomatic screening

Women of any age who present with a breast problem are referred to the Symptomatic Breast Clinic at the Churchill Hospital via the specialist breast surgeons.

Healthcare professionals

It would be useful for healthcare professionals to see mammography and assessment procedures first-hand.

If you are a healthcare professional and would like to visit, please contact us.

Contact us

Breast Screening - Oxford University Hospitals

Last reviewed:11 June 2024