Breast screening looks for breast cancer before symptoms show. This involves taking mammograms, which are x-rays of the breast. At least two mammograms of each breast are taken.
If we find breast cancer at an early stage, treatment has the greatest chance of being successful.
The breast screening programme is only for women aged over 50. This is because the risk of developing breast cancer increases with age. Breast cancer affects one in nine women in Wales at some time in their lives.
Mammograms are the most efficient way of detecting breast cancer early. However they will not pick up all breast cancer. The reason is that some cancers are very difficult to see on mammograms and are not always seen by the person reading the mammogram and some cancers cannot be seen at all.
All of the mammograms are looked at (or read) by at least two specialists.
Women at increased risk of breast cancer because of a family history may benefit from screening at an earlier age.
[more information about family history screening]
Whatever age you are, if you are worried about any breast problem, please contact your doctor, who may refer you to your local hospital breast clinic.
We ask about one in every 20 women that we screen to come to one of our assessment clinics because more tests are needed. These tests may include more mammograms, a clinical examination, an ultrasound scan and possibly a needle biopsy.
Most of the changes which show up on a mammogram are not cancer and most women we call back to assesment clinics at our centres in Cardiff, Swansea, Llandudno or Wrexham do not have breast cancer.
Sometimes we need to call women back because of a technical fault. We will tell you if this is the reason.