Breast Awareness FAQs

Blog News 29th October 2019 Enquiries & appointments

With Breast cancer survival improving all the time (almost 9 in 10 women survive breast cancer for five or more years*) knowing how your own breasts look and feel will help you become your own expert and know what action to take should you find anything suspicious.

The Breast Care Services at KIMS Hospital are run by a team of breast care specialists, including a dedicated Macmillan Breast Care Nurse, to provide you with a fast diagnosis and support you with any further treatment.

What is breast screening?

Breast screening, also known as a mammogram, is designed to help detect changes within your breasts early, usually before there are any signs or symptoms that you may be aware of. Early detection of changes within the breast means that if treatment is required, we can support you as soon as possible to give you the best chance of recovery. Hopefully it is reassuring to know that 96% of women will receive a normal result and no further investigations or screening will be required until your next mammogram is due 12 months afterwards.

When should I examine my breasts and what should I look for?

For the visible signs of breast cancer:

  1. Look in front of the mirror and raise your arms up and down
  2. Put your hands on your hips and press hard
  3. Look for any indentation, skin retraction, lumps in the armpit and if you see one breast moving differently to the other one, see your GP.

The best time to examine your breasts is when they are inactive. For some women it could be before your period or after your period. If you examine your breasts in a seated position, the tissue will be lumpy- the best way to examine your breasts is lying down with your arms behind your head and using the flat of your hand to feel for any lumps.

Some of the signs and symptoms of breast cancer include:

  • a lump in the breast
  • a change in the size or shape of the breast
  • dimpling of the skin or thickening in the breast tissue
  • a nipple that’s turned in (inverted)
  • a rash (like eczema) on the nipple
  • discharge from the nipple
  • swelling or a lump in the armpit
  • pain or discomfort in the breast that doesn’t go away.

Who can have breast screening?

You can book a self-pay breast screening appointment without a GP referral if you:

  • Are aged 40 or over- there is no upper age limit
  • Haven’t had a mammogram in the last 12 months
  • Have no worrying symptoms

What to expect from a mammogram at KIMS Hospital

Breast screening at KIMS Hospital takes place in the Imaging Department where one of our mammographers will greet you and take you to the mammography room. There will be a short questionnaire to go through, confirming that you have not had any symptoms before. During this time, they will also gain your consent to go ahead with the procedure.

Your mammographer will ask you to remove your top and bra, then stand in front of the mammography machine and place your breasts, one at a time, between the two plates, which will create two images for each side of the breast. The plates will then compress but there shouldn’t be any pain or discomfort. If you do feel any pain, tell your mammographer immediately.

Two radiologists will review your images before anything is communicated to you.

How long does it take to get the results of mammography?

If your mammogram results are normal, you and your GP will receive a letter the week after your appointment stating the outcome of your visit.

If there is anything the radiologist would like to review, we will call you and ask you to come back to our Breast Assessment Clinic.

What happens during a Breast Assessment Clinic?

If you have been called back in to attend the Breast Assessment Clinic after your initial mammogram at the Breast Screening Clinic, your radiologist will decide whether a second mammogram or a different scan called a tomosynthesis is required.

If appropriate, you will have a second mammogram, which will be reviewed and discussed with you during your appointment. If further tests and scans are necessary after the second mammogram, for example, an ultrasound or biopsy, we will discuss your options with you in detail.

What is tomosysnthesis?

Performed in an outpatient setting, tomosynthesis involves an x-ray tube moving in an arc over the compressed breast capturing multiple images from different angles. Tomosynthesis is a new and advanced diagnostic tool used in the diagnosis of breast cancer. As the technique is relatively new, it is only available at a limited number of hospitals, including KIMS Hospital.

Used in conjunction with conventional mammography, breast tomosynthesis (pronounced toh-moh-SIN-thah-sis) is a leading form of 3D mammography, which uses a low dose x-ray system and computer reconstructions to create three-dimensional images of the breasts. Tomosynthesis helps to determine the difference between overlapping normal breast tissue and cancer, which in turn aids the early detection and diagnosis of breast cancer.


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