Women under the age of 50 are not at this point in time invited to take part in the national breast screening (mammogram) program here in the UK. This is because research has shown (according to information on the NHS website) that routine breast screening is less effective in the 40 to 50-year-old age group of women. Some women, however, are more concerned about their individual circumstances than national statistics and opt to arrange their own mammograms. If you work in London, you can contact us here at Broadgate Clinic London Wall for breast health screening advice.
Consulting your GP if you have breast health concerns
It should be noted that women of any age can consult with their GPs and ask them to refer them to a hospital or breast clinic if they have any concerns regarding a specific breast problem, or they are concerned about the risk of developing breast cancer. In these instances the test is carried out independently to the national breast screening programme, and can take several weeks to organise. If you do have a specific concern, you may not be comfortable with this timescale, which is when availing yourself of the breast screening health services here at Broadgate Clinic London Wall may be more expedient option if you work in London.
What exactly is a mammogram?
A mammogram is an x-ray exam of the breast(s) that looks for specific, abnormal changes. It is carried out by an x-ray scanner emitting a low dose of x-rays into the breast(s). The results are then recorded on an x-ray film, or may otherwise (if digital) be directly scanned into a computer, enabling a doctor or a radiologist to examine the results remotely.
A correctly executed mammogram, plus a clinical examination, (carried out by a hospital, or a clinician at a private clinic), is the most effective way of detecting breast cancer at the earliest opportunity.
How a mammogram is carried out
When you go for a mammogram you will be asked to stand in front of a specific type of x-ray machine. The technician or clinician operating the machine will instruct you to place your breasts, (one at a time), in between an x-ray plate and a plastic plate, both of which are attached to the x-ray scanner. These plates press the breasts slightly to flatten them. This spreads the breast tissue out, allowing a clearer x-ray picture to be taken. All you will feel is a slight degree of pressure on your breasts for a few seconds, only. Most womenfeel a little or no discomfort. It is usual for two x-rays to be taken of each breast; one from the side and one from above. The whole exercise takes no more than about 20 minutes in total.
Preparing for your mammogram
Personal preparations for a mammogram are minimal, but please make not of the following points:
- Prior and during your period your breasts may be slightly swollen and tender. Therefore, try and avoid having a mammogram carried out either the week before, or during your period. This will not only ensure that the results are clearer, but will also help to minimise any discomfort.
- If you have had breast implants fitted be sure to tell the establishment when you arrive.
- In terms of clothing it is best to wear a shirt with shorts, pants, or a skirt. This makes it much easier to disrobe from the waist up, leaving your shorts, pants, or skirt in place while the mammogram is being carried out.
- You should refrain from applying any cosmetic powders lotions or perfumes either under your arms or on your breasts on the actual day of your mammogram. They can cause shadows to show up on the x-rays.
- If you have had any mammograms carried out previously it’s a good idea to have the results forwarded to the establishment you are currently using, so that if necessary they can be used in comparison.
The convenience of using the women’s health screening services at Broadgate Clinic London Wall
Broadgate Clinic London Wall operate walk-in women’s health screening services, so if you work in London and you are concerned about breast health you can call-in taking minimal time off work.