Breast cancer is the most common cancer in the UK
Breast screening aims to find breast cancer at an early stage, often before there are any symptoms. Early detection may often mean simpler and more successful treatment.
Your risk of getting breast cancer goes up as you get older. About four out of five breast cancers are found in women over 50 years old. Most women with breast cancer do not have a family history of the disease.
The NHS Breast Screening Project invites all women aged 50 to 70 years for a free screening service once every three years. Women over 70 will not routinely be sent an invitation and instead they are encouraged to call the unit to make an appointment.
Breast screening uses an X-ray test called a mammogram to check the breast for signs of cancer. It can spot cancers that are too small to see or feel.
The mammographer will place your breast on to the mammogram machine and lower a plastic plate on to it to flatten it. This helps to keep your breast still and get clear X-rays.
Be 'breast aware'
Breast screening is not the only way you can spot breast cancers early. It is important to be 'breast aware' and get any changes checked out. If you notice any unusual change to the size, feel or shape of your breasts, you should make an appointment to see your GP straight away.
Learn more about the symptoms of breast cancer.