What is screening?
Breast screening looks for breast cancer before symptoms show. This involves taking x-rays (mammograms) of the breast. At least two x-rays of each breast are taken. Learn more about having a mammogram (Royal College of Radiologists website).
Why is it important?
Breast cancer can affect any woman but is more common in women aged over 50. The risk of developing breast cancer is related to age – the older you are, the higher your risk. It affects one in nine women in Wales at some time in their lives. If we find breast cancer at an early stage, treatment has the greatest chance of being successful. The best way of screening for breast cancer is by having regular mammograms, as you may not be able to see or feel early changes.
How accurate is breast screening?
Mammograms are the most efficient way of detecting breast cancer early. Like other screening tests, they are not perfect. For example:
- some cancers are very difficult to see
- some cancers, even though they are there, cannot be seen at all and
- the person reading the x-ray may miss the cancer. This will happen occasionally, no matter how experienced the reader is. We aim to have two specialists check all the mammograms.