Breast screening - getting called back after a mammogram

Some women (about 4 in 100) are called back to a breast assessment clinic after their mammogram. This is because screening suggests further tests are needed. This does not necessarily mean there’s something wrong - 3 out of 4 women recalled have normal results after attending the assessment clinic.

Coronavirus: restoration and recovery of the Breast Cancer Screening Programme

Routine breast cancer screening was temporarily paused from the second week in March 2020.   

This was in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.  The Department of Health has now called for the phased restoration of all paused screening programmes.  This has begun and routine breast cancer screening restarted from 20 July 2020.

The four month pause to date has resulted in a backlog of women awaiting screening.  In addition, the screening programme will not be able to screen the same number of women as it did before the Covid-19 pandemic. 

This is due to the need for social distancing and appropriate infection control measures.  It will therefore take many months to get the programme up and running at normal levels again.

Reasons for being called back following screening

The reason you were invited to go to an assessment clinic will be explained to you when you come to the clinic. You’ll also be asked about any breast problems and given an opportunity to ask questions.

If you’ve any questions or concerns you can speak to a breast care nurse. You will find their contact number on your appointment letter.

Further tests explained

A number of tests may be carried out at the assessment clinic but you may not need all of them.

The tests include:

  • further imaging – mammogram or ultrasound
  • tissue sampling – for example, biopsy
  • clinical examination

A leaflet with further information on these tests will be provided to you when you are called to assessment.

The tests can take about two hours to complete. You may find it helpful to bring someone along with you, such as a partner, a relative or a friend. If you’ve further questions you can speak to a breast care nurse. You will find their number on your appointment letter.

If English isn’t your first language and you require a translator, you can contact the unit using the number on your appointment letter.

Getting your results

When you get your results depends on the tests that you need at your assessment clinic appointment.

You will either be told your results before you leave the clinic or, if you need a biopsy, you will be asked to return within a week for the results.

Read more on why you have been called back:

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