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Breast screening is operated and arranged by Breast Test Wales
What is Breast Screening?
Breast screening looks for breast cancer before symptoms show. This involves taking mammograms, which are x-rays of the breast. At least two mammograms of each breast are taken.
Why is Breast Screening Important?
If we find breast cancer at an early stage, treatment has the greatest chance of being successful.
The breast screening programme is only for women aged over 50. This is because the risk of developing breast cancer increases with age. Breast cancer affects one in nine women in Wales at some time in their lives.
How Accurate is Breast Screening?
Mammograms are the most efficient way of detecting breast cancer early. However they will not pick up all breast cancer. The reason is that some cancers are very difficult to see on mammograms and are not always seen by the person reading the mammogram and some cancers cannot be seen at all.
All of the mammograms are looked at (or read) by at least two specialists.
Women at increased risk of breast cancer because of a family history may benefit from screening at an earlier age.
Whatever age you are, if you are worried about any breast problem, please contact your doctor, who may refer you to your local hospital breast clinic.
When Women are Recalled?
We ask about one in every 20 women that we screen to come to one of our assessment clinics because more tests are needed. These tests may include more mammograms, a clinical examination, an ultrasound scan and possibly a needle biopsy.
Most of the changes which show up on a mammogram are not cancer and most women we call back to assesment clinics at our centres in Cardiff, Swansea, Llandudno or Wrexham do not have breast cancer. Sometimes we need to call women back because of a technical fault. We will tell you if this is the reason.
How to be Breast Aware
Breast awareness is part of general body awareness. It is important to get to know how your breasts look and feel normally, this will help you notice any changes that are different.
Although uncommon, men can get breast cancer so it is important that men are breast aware too.
The Breast Awareness 5 Point Code
- Know what is normal for you
- Know what changes to look for
- Look and Feel
- Report any changes to your GP without delay
- Attend for routine breast screening if you are aged over 50
How do I Check my Breasts?
There is no right or wrong way to check your breasts. You decide what is comfortable for you.
You can check in the shower, when getting dressed, lying down or standing in front of the mirror
Remember to check all parts of your breasts, armpits up to your collar bone and in between your breasts.
What should I look for?
- A change in size or shape of one breast
- Any puckering or dimpling of the skin
- Any change in the position of the nipple - pulled in or pointing differently
- Any lumps, thickening or bumpy areas in one breast or the armpit
- Any discharge or blood from the nipple
- A rash around the nipple
- A swelling in your armpit
- Constant discomfort or pain in one breast that is different from normal
The Breast Awareness 5 Point Code
If you notice any change in your breast you should talk to your GP or Practice Nurse without delay. Nine out of ten breast changes are not cancer but if there is a problem it is best treated early.