Screening mammography is used to detect breast changes in women who have no signs or symptoms or observable breast abnormalities. The goal is to detect cancer before any clinical signs are noticeable. This usually requires at least two views from different angles from each breast.
Most patients referred to The London Breast Clinic are done so by their Doctor as they have symptoms that requiring investigation.
If patients are concerned about their breast health from the age of 40 it is possible to self-refer for breast screening, as long as they have not had a mammogram in the past 12 months.
All results are required to be sent to a qualified medical professional. 108 Harley Street follows the GMC guidelines so no results can be given directly to the patient.
In common with leading breast cancer centres and international standards we advocate routine annual full field digital mammography from the age of 40, or from 35 if high risk factors and family history have been identified. Patients under 40 would require a clinical referral indicating the risk factors and reason for mammography.
Our data shows that about 40% of new cancers seen at The London Breast Clinic are in patients under 50, the lower age level of the NHS Breast Screening Programme.
Patients in the 3 Yearly NHS Breast Screening Programme, have the option of receiving annual imaging. It is widely recognised that many screen detected cancers can develop during this 3 year screening interval, more frequent screening provides reassurance and peace of mind to the patient.
Breast screening is based on monitoring changes in the breast using mammography so as well as providing investigations of lumps, we are happy to arrange annual surveillance, including a prepaid cycle of 3 years.
If abnormalities are identified on screening then rapid and appropriate investigations are available within The London Breast Clinic.
Mammography isn't foolproof. It does have some limitations and potential risks:
A Mammogram exposes you to low-dose radiation. The dose is very low, though, and for most women the benefits of regular mammography outweigh the risks posed by this amount of radiation.
Mammograms aren't always accurate. The accuracy of the procedure depends in part on the quality of the image, the technique used, and the experience and skill of the radiographer. Other factors - such as your age and breast density - may result in false-negative or false-positive mammograms. Always tell your doctor if you've noticed a change in one of your breasts, especially if your mammogram is interpreted as normal.
Mammograms in younger women can be difficult to interpret. The breasts of younger women contain more glands and ligaments than do those of older women, resulting in dense breast tissue that can obscure signs of cancer. With age, breast tissue becomes fattier and has fewer glands, making it easier to detect changes on mammograms.
Having a mammogram may lead to additional testing. Among women of all ages, about 10 percent of mammograms require additional testing. However, most abnormal findings aren't cancer. If you're told that your mammogram is abnormal, make sure that the radiologist has compared your current mammogram with any previous mammograms.
Screening mammography can't detect all cancers. Some cancers detected by physical examination may not be seen on the mammogram. A cancer may be too small or may be in an area that is difficult to view by mammography, such as your armpit. Mammograms can miss 1 in 5 cancers in women.
Not all of the tumors found by mammography can be cured. Certain types of cancers are aggressive, grow rapidly and spread early to other parts of your body.
If your mammogram shows areas of concern that may be cancer, the radiologist may recommend additional mammograms or an ultrasound. A breast biopsy may be recommended if the area continues to appear suspicious. A biopsy is a procedure to remove a piece of tissue or a sample of cells from your body so that it can be analyzed by a pathologist. If your mammogram or biopsy shows that you have breast cancer, you and your doctor can discuss the best course of treatment.
Call 0207 563 1209 to speak with 108 X-Ray and Imaging or email for firstname.lastname@example.org more information.