The Harley Street Breast Clinic

Routine and rapid breast screening with same-day diagnosis, advice and treatments for all breast problems.

3rd Floor, 148 Harley Street, London, W1G 7LG

Mammographic Screening

A mammogram every one to two years will give the best protection by diagnosing very early stage breast cancer.

How often should I have a Mammogram?

In most countries, routine screening mammograms are carried out every one or two years, however the NHS offers breast screening every three years for women between the ages of fifty and seventy. This time frame is not optimal but nonetheless it is still very effective and saves thousands of lives each year. A mammogram every one to two years will give the best protection by diagnosing very early stage breast cancer. Some women like to arrange to have an additional mammogram half way between each NHS screen.

For women below 40 who would like an annual check, an ultrasound scan is usually more appropirate due to the density of the breast.

Drawbacks of Mammographic Screening

One of the problems with screening using mammography is the exposure to radiation.  X-rays are potentially harmful and can contribute to the causes of breast cancer. For mammography the radiation dose is low, much less than most types of medical X-rays.  X-rays are more damaging in young women, which is one reason why we tend not to do mammograms under the age of thirty-five.  The Digital Mammogramm machine at The Harley Street Breast Clinic gives a much lower dose than the analogue mammogram machines which are still routinely used in many clinics and hospitals in the UK.

Recently the newspapers have carried stories of unnecessary surgery resulting from breast screening.  In the NHS 8 out of every 9 surgical diagnostic biopsies confirms breast cancer meaning that few women undergo unnecessary biopsies. There is concern that some conditions, for which surgery is recommended, may have not caused any significant problems such as cancer spread during the rest of the person’s life if they had been merely left alone. The best estimates are that 93% invasive cancers would be fatal if left and around 7% may never cause any harm. Given the choice, most women would choose to have treatment rather than hope that they are one of the small number of harmless cancers. These difficult situations are discussed at length with women during consultations with Consultant Breast Surgeons, and people can make their own choice.

The other obvious problem with breast screening is the considerable anxiety that is generated by being called back for further investigations.  In the NHS, approximately 1 in 20 women having a mammogram are called back for further testing for poor quality mammograms or possible cancers. The Harley Street Breast Clinic has a much lower recall rate.

If you are found to have an abnormal mammogram from the NHS or another site, it is possible to take your films to The Harley Street Breast Clinic where the abnormalities can be assessed quickly. The Harley Street Breast Clinic also offers routine screening within a one stop diagnostic clinic where the results are immediately available and any abnormalities can be sorted out right away.

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Contact our Breast Care Team

If you would like to book an appointment or if you are a doctor who would like to refer a patient then please call our Breast Care Team on +44 (0)20 7908 6071 or email us here.