Breast screening

The breast screening programme covers the whole of Northern Ireland. The programme invites women by GP practice every three years. A woman might be aged 50, 51 or 52 when she receives her first invite to attend – the first invitation will be before the age of 53.

In order to be invited women must ensure that their GP has their correct name and current address on their computer system.

 When you receive an invitation to attend for breast screening:

  • Read the information leaflet that comes with the invitation. It is called Breast screening can save lives
  • If you want more information or advice speak with your GP
  • If you have special requirements speak to the breast screening unit
  • Plan in advance how you will get to the appointment on the day, including transport, time off work, someone to look after the children or other dependents and consider whether you want to bring a companion.
  • If the appointment doesn’t suit you phone the breast screening unit and arrange to attend at a different time

Increasing the number of women who participate in breast screening is vital in reducing the number of women dying from breast cancer. In Northern Ireland women aged 50 to 70 are invited to attend every three years. However, about 25% of women invited do not attend for screening. There are a variety of reasons why some women may not attend, including the way the programme is organised, poor communication or to individual factors (personal circumstances).

A well organised system for inviting women to attend for breast screening improves uptake. In Northern Ireland we have had a good call and recall computer system operating for many years. This system is called the National Breast Screening System (NBSS). In order to be able to produce invitation letters it needs to be able to identify women who are aged 50 – 70 and have up to date contact information. Until recently this information was cross checked manually with the information held by GPs.

In November 2010 an electronic link was established between NBSS and the computer system that supports primary care. The link means that the most up to date contact details are now readily available to the breast screening programme. The whole process of course depends on the GP computer system being completely accurate.

A series of information leaflets is available on the publications section of this website by clicking here

For more information on breast screening please also see  

The Breast Screening programme has produced a video to show what happens when women attend their appointment for a mammogram. To view the video click here: