Breast Screening Program Recommencing
Breast Screening Program is recommencing 20th July 2020 – Following guidance from Public Health Agency (PHA) we will be offering socially distant appointments in both our mobiles and static unit.
If you had your original appointment cancelled due to COVID19, a new appointment will be issued to you. This however may not be at the location you usually attend so please check your letter to ensure you arrive at the correct location.
The Western Trust Breast Service provides both a screening and symptomatic service, providing specialist care for patients with breast cancer and non-cancer conditions.
The Western Trust currently has three General Consultant Surgeons with breast speciality working in Altnagelvin Hospital:
Mr Padraig Diggin
Mr Michael Harron
Mr Ron Thompson
Mr Brendan Skelly
These Surgeons provide services at the symptomatic clinics and the screening assessment clinics. Reconstructive breast surgery is also available in Altnagelvin Hospital.
There is one Full time and two Part time Breast Care Nurse Specialists and one Part time Advanced Nurse Practitioner employed by the Western Trust who can provide information, support and help to patients who have or fear they have breast cancer. They have offices in the Breast Screening Unit and also in the North West Cancer Centre at Altnagelvin Hospital.
Clinical Nurse Specialist (CNS) Breast Team is available Monday-Friday 9am-5pm. If you wish to speak with a CNS prior to your appointment please contact us on 028 7161 1187.
Breast Screening Programme
Breast screening takes place every three years for women aged 50 -70. To ensure everyone eligible receives an invitation at the correct screening interval each time, GP practices are always screened in the same order.
Appointments are made and women will receive notification three weeks in advance by post. The appointments are allocated but you can contact us on 028 7161 1363 to change your appointment if it is unsuitable. Requests to change an appointment can also be emailed to Altnagelvin.BreastScreening@westerntrust.hscni.net and a response will be provided within 24 hours.
Before the mammogram the radiographer will explain the procedure to you. You will be told to expect the results by post within three weeks.
Most women will receive a normal result however about four in every 100 women screened will need to return for further tests. This does not necessarily mean that anything is wrong, as three out of four women who are recalled will receive a normal result when the further tests have been completed.
Clinical Nurse Specialist (CNS) Breast Team is available Monday-Friday 9.00am-5.00pm. If you wish to speak with a CNS prior to your appointment for these further tests please contact us on 02871611187.
A member of the Breast Screening Team may be available to attend community groups to talk about breast screening, give information and answer queries. To enquire about this service contact the breast screening unit on 028 7161 1443 and ask to speak to a member of the mammography team.
Mobile Screening Unit
The Western Trust has two mobile screening units used for the screening program to deliver the service throughout the trust catchment area.
There will be mobile units in two locations when screening recommences:
- The mobile at Altnagelvin will be in the car park of the Static Breast Clinic beside the static Breast Unit.
- Our second Mobile unit will now have a new location – The Car Park at Dunnes Stores, Omagh. This mobile location will no longer be at Omagh Library.
Those affected by the screening pause will by now have been offered their mammogram appointment. Social distancing and Infection Control Measures have reduced our appointment capacity to around 70 % of what it normally is.
We will endeavour to create extra appointments over weekends and at all our locations where possible. This may be dependent on staff available during the pandemic. You may be offered an appointment at a location slightly different to where you may have been screened before due to this.
We are hopeful to return to all our regular locations for appointments, including those in Enniskillen, in 2021.
Please see our timetable for information on the order in which practices should be called for screening – set dates cannot be given as we try to recover from the screening pause due to COVID19.
What to expect from your breast screening appointment
The symptomatic clinics, also known as the Fast Lane Breast Clinic, take place on a Wednesday and Friday at the breast screening unit in Altnagelvin Hospital.
Any patient who attends the clinic will have been referred there by their GP with a Breast Symptom.
At a Fast Lane Clinic every patient will have a triple assessment available. This means
- The breast will be examined by a Breast Clinician/Doctor
- They will have their breast imaged either by mammography and/or Ultrasound
- Some patients may require further intervention e.g. need a needle biopsy test
At the Fast Lane Clinic you will receive the results of any Mammography and Ultrasound examinations before you leave.
Family History Service
A weekly Family History Clinic is held at Altnagelvin Hospital by the Breast Nurse Practitioner.
Women who are concerned about a potential family history of breast cancer are advised to see their GP who will make a referral to the Family History clinic if necessary.
On receipt of a referral all new patients will be sent a family history questionnaire. We ask that they complete this to the best of their ability, although we understand it may not be possible to know all the details. The questionnaire is used to draw the family tree. This information is used as part of the risk assessment process.
During the Family History Clinic women are offered a clinical examination, and, if appropriate, a mammogram. If other investigations are required relating to the breast examination these are arranged. A full discussion of their family history takes place and advice is offered on the level of risk and future screening needs.
Many women can be reassured that they are in the ‘Population Risk’ group and therefore have a similar lifetime risk to other women in the population of the same age and can therefore be screened every three years from age 50 to 70 as part of the National Breast Screening Programme.
Some women may have a Family History which falls into a ‘Raised’ or ‘High Risk’ group and may be advised of additional screening e.g. in the form of annual mammography. There are close links with the Regional Genetics Service and some women, after initial assessment, will be referred to this service.
Fiona Rankin – Breast Nurse Practitioner
Kirsty Stewart- Family History Secretary
Ladies over the age of 70 can make an appointment for a screening mammogram every 3 years, and may contact the breast screening unit in order to do so.
If you have any concerns about unusual changes or symptoms of breast cancer please speak with your GP as soon as possible.
In this case you cannot come for a routine mammogram and your GP should refer you to our Fast Lane Breast Clinic for tests if necessary
Information for Women with Learning Disabilities
The Clinical Nurse Specialist team at Avon Breast Screening has in collaboration with biggerhouse film, produced a film by and for women with learning disabilities, to take the fear out of going for breast screening.
This is a breast screening film for women with learning disabilities, showing clearly what happens during the process of having a mammogram. Whilst breast screening is always an individual choice, the film is intended to take the fear out of going for breast screening and encourage women with learning disabilities to come and have the test.
Other useful links for more information about breast screening: