May 312022

A new round of breast screening is about to commence for women aged 50 to 70 years old, currently registered at Bruntsfield Medical Practice.

You will receive an invitation letter in the mail soon which will contain information about the screening process.

If your appointment is unsuitable, you can ring the Breast Screening Centre directly to rearrange it on 0131 537 7400.

Please be aware that the previous ability for women aged over 70 to be able to make their own ad-hoc appointment for breast screening is currently on hold. They hope this service will be back up and running by October 2022.

What happens at your appointment

Breast cancer screening involves an X-ray examination called a mammogram, which tries to detect cancer before it causes symptoms or findings on examination. The earlier a cancer is diagnosed the easier it is to treat.

The breast screening appointment takes about 10 minutes from start to finish. The mammogram itself takes barely a minute, and they are always carried out by female health professionals who will try to make you feel as comfortable as possible.

The female mammographer will position one breast at a time between two flat plates. The machine will take two X-rays of each breast. You have to stay as still as possible while the image is being taken. Having your breasts pressed flat between the plates can be uncomfortable, and some women find it painful. You can say stop at any point if you feel too much discomfort. You will be asked to undress from the waist up, so you may find it helpful to wear trousers or a skirt.

For patient’s of Bruntsfield, these scans take place at Ardmillan House.

Breast Screening results

The results of your scan will be sent to you within three weeks.

The majority of women will receive a letter saying their mammograms were normal and if they are under 70 years old that they will be recalled again in 3 year. A very small number of women will need a “technical recall”. That is when the original image wasn’t clear enough to read and needs to be repeated. This can happen if not all the breast tissue was imaged, or the breast tissue was moved during the mammogram.

Around 1 in 20 women will be invited to the second stage of screening, which is to attend an appointment for further tests. This means your mammogram may be showing an area the doctors would like to image more clearly, with further mammograms and/or an ultrasound scan. Some women will also need a biopsy. A biopsy is when a small sample of tissue is removed.

Breast Screening risks

You may be concerned about your exposure to X-rays. Having mammograms every three years for 20 years very slightly increases the chance of getting cancer over a woman’s lifetime.

Mammograms don’t find all cancers and changes can happen between screenings. This is why it’s important to keep checking your breasts for any changes regularly between screenings.

You could be diagnosed with and treated for a cancer that may not spread and may not cause you harm. Unfortunately, doctors can’t always tell whether or not the cancer will spread in the future and so you may have to make some difficult decisions about going forward with treatment. While treatments save lives, they can also cause serious long-term side effects. If there are choices about your treatment then you’ll receive information and support to help you decide what is right for you.

Breast cancer facts

  • Breast cancer is the most common cancer in woman
  • About 1,000 women die of breast cancer every year in Scotland
  • There are around 4,800 women diagnosed with breast cancer every year in Scotland
  • 8 out of 10 breast cancers are found in women aged 50 and over
  • Around 130 women are prevented from dying from breast cancer each year in Scotland due to regular screening
  • It is estimated that for every woman who has her life saved from breast cancer through screening, 3 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer that might never have become life threatening
  • You are 5 times more likely to survive breast cancer if it is caught early.

Be breast aware

Woman of all ages should be breast aware and regularly check their breasts for changes. Although lumps in your breast or armpit may be harmless, you should get them checked by the GP.

Other symptoms to look out for are:

  • A lump, area of thickened tissue or bumps in either breast.
  • A change in the size or shape of one or both breasts.
  • A lump or swelling in either of your armpits.
  • Skin that appears like orange peel.
  • Crusting on or around the nipple.
  • A leaking nipple which may or may not be streaked with blood.
  • Dimples or skin that’s become drawn in.
  • A nipple that’s become turned in.

Further information

Much of this, and further information is available in the NHS Scotland information booklet on Breast screening:

Breast screening leaflet (

There are also several websites with further information on the Scottish breast screening programme and on breast cancer: