Breast Screening

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Breast screening is carried out by mammography.

  • Each person will have four X-ray mammogram images taken; two of each breast. 
  • The mammographer will always be female.
  • Some people can find mammograms uncomfortable, but few people find them painful.
  • Mammograms are used to find early breast cancers before they can be seen or felt.

Mammograms are reviewed and the results will be sent to both the patient and the GP within two weeks. There are three possible results:

  • Normal: No signs of cancer and the patient will be sent an invite again in three years.
  • Technical repeat: The mammogram needs to be repeated for technical reasons only.
  • Assessment: When more detail is needed before a result is decided.

An assessment appointment can take between two to five hours because the team aims to do all the necessary tests at one appointment. If a patient needs a needle biopsy, the result will be ready in seven to ten days. If a patient would like specific information about the reason they have been invited back, they may find it helpful to speak to one of the breast care nurses who will have access to the records.

The aim of breast screening is to detect breast cancer at an earlier stage, often before the woman is aware of any problem. Early detection may mean simpler and more successful treatment. Scientific evidence shows that regular breast screening, between the ages of 50-71 years, reduces the death rate from breast cancer. See the NHS Breast Screening Programme for more details.

Local provision

To enable women to be screened closer to home, breast screening is carried out at a number of sites across the region.

In Islington and Camden, the breast screening service is provided by The Central & East London Breast Screening Service.

In Barnet, Enfield and Haringey, the Breast Screening Service is provided by The North London Breast Screening Service.

For more details on locations, see the screening services map.

Both services are managed by Royal Free London.

Screening invitations

  • Everyone registered as female with a GP and aged between 50 and 71 will be automatically invited to breast screening every three years, with the first invite arriving before their 53rd birthday. 
  • They will be invited to the screening site closest to their home address, but can change the location, time and date of their appointment by contacting the London Breast Screening Hub.
  • Women older than 71 are still eligible for free NHS breast screening every 3 years, and should self-refer by contacting the London Breast Screening Hub.
  • Patients are invited on their next test due date (NTDD), which is 3 years after their previous appointment. Prior to 2021, patients were invited based on their GP practice, but this is no longer the case.
  • Some transgender and non-binary patients are also eligible for breast screening, including:
    • Cisgender women.
    • Trans women and non-binary people who were assigned male at birth and have taken feminising hormones for five years or longer.
    • Trans men and non-binary people who have not had top surgery or a bilateral mastectomy.

Visit the downloads section below and the London Breast Screening Hub for more information and leaflets:


For related information, please see the Cancer Care Resources section of this website.

Eligibility Criteria


Women aged 50 and up to their 71st birthday:

  • All women aged between 50 and up to their 71st birthday who are registered with a GP are eligible for screening. A list is compiled from GP records, so it is important patient contact details are correct.

Women aged 47-49 (this pilot is currently paused):

  • Some women in the 47 to 49 year age range will be invited. Those who are not invited as part of this pilot will receive an invitation for screening in three years.

Women over 70 (this pilot is currently paused):

  • Some women in the 71 to 73 year age range will be invited. Those not invited as part of this pilot and who have not been screened for three years can still request an appointment by contacting London Breast Screening via
    t: 020 3758 2024 or 

Anyone of any age with concerns about their breasts should contact their GP immediately.

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Review date: Sunday, 08 September 2024