Belfast and South Eastern Trust Breast Screening Programme
Coronavirus has had a major impact on the NHS, including breast screening. As a result you may have waited longer than normal for your appointment and we would like to apologise for this. Breast screening recommenced on 20th July 2020 and the programme is currently appointing the backlog of women who need screened. Women over age of 70 who are due for screening can now self-refer. This will be kept under review.
Breast screening takes place every 3 years for women who are aged 50 – 70. As this is a three year rolling programme which calls by year of birth not every woman will receive her first invitation at 50. All women will receive their first invitation by their 53rd birthday.
Women over the age of 70 are not automatically invited but are encouraged to contact their local Breast Screening Centre every 3 years to make an appointment to attend.
The Breast Screening Centre in Linenhall Street, Belfast provides this for women who are registered with a GP in the following areas:
- South Belfast
- East Belfast
- North and West Belfast
There is also a Mobile Unit which women are invited to attend who are registered with the GP Practices in the five areas below:
- Bangor: Ards Hospital
- Downpatrick: Downe Hospital
- Lisburn: Lagan Valley Hospital
- Newcastle: Downe Hospital
- Newtownards: Ards Hospital
For more information on where Breast Screening takes place, click here.
Routine Breast Screening
Eligible women will receive an invitation to attend approximately 3 weeks prior to their appointment. The screening unit invites all eligible women in the GP practice at the same time to keep a 3 year rolling cycle.
It is helpful to contact the breast screening unit for the following reasons by telephone or e-mail:
- Your appointment time is unsuitable – we can reschedule
- You have had a mammogram within the past 6 months – an appointment can be rescheduled
- You have a disability, difficulty with stairs or are a wheelchair user as this will enable us to allocate a longer time slot
- You have breast implants – you will usually be able to have a mammogram but please let the screening staff know beforehand
- If you require an interpreter
- You are currently under care for Breast Cancer and/or having annual mammograms
- The location is unsuitable
You will be asked to provide a mobile telephone number (if available) when you come for your screening appointment as there is a text reminder service. Women can contact the unit to provide a mobile number prior to their screening appointment for a text reminder to be sent.
You can expect to receive your results within 2-3 weeks. Results are also sent to your GP.
Around 4 in every 100 women screened will be asked to return to the screening unit for further tests. This does not necessarily mean that anything is wrong. Many women attending for their first mammogram may be called back. A normal result will be given to 3 out of 4 women recalled after further tests are carried out.
Breast cancer can develop at any time and some women can develop it between screening visits. You should check your breasts regularly for any changes. If you have any worries contact your GP, even if you have had a recent mammogram.
Promoting Informed Choice
A member of the Screening Unit’s Health Promotion Team is available to attend GP Practices or Community Groups to provide information on the Breast Screening programme. Please contact the Unit to arrange a visit.
Video for women with learning disabilities
The Clinical Nurse Specialist team at Avon Breast Screening has in collaboration with Biggerhouse film, produced a film by and for women with learning disabilities, to take the fear out of going for breast screening.
This is a breast screening film for women with learning disabilities, showing clearly what happens during the process of having a mammogram. Whilst breast screening is always an individual choice, the film is intended to take the fear out of going for breast screening and encourage women with learning disabilities to come and have the test.