Breast Screening Program
We continue to endeavour to provide your routine breast screening appointment within the three year period of the NHS Breast Screening Programme. As appointment numbers are limited it is important that you try to attend the appointment you have been given or if you need to reschedule then please do so as soon as possible so that other service users may be offered your original appointment.
We also are offering appointments at various locations. Whilst we aim to offer your appointment at your usual location you may be asked to travel to a different location for a change of appointment, where we have more appointment capacity.
We appreciate your co-operation as we try to complete appointments for all those who require them across all or services as we continue to meet the challenges of COVID-19.
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 Brendan Skelly
- Mr Colin McIlmunn
These Surgeons provide services at the symptomatic clinics and the screening assessment clinics. Reconstructive breast surgery is also available in Altnagelvin Hospital. As part of the breast surgery and reconstruction services available 3D nipple areola tattooing is offered within the Trust at Altnagelvin Site by the Breast Nurse Practitioners.
The Breast Care Nurse specialist team comprises of part time and full time staff who can provide information, support and help to patients who have concerns about 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 9.00am-5.00pm. 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.
If you require a social story to prepare you for your screening appointment, click here to view an easy guide.
Mobile Screening Unit
The Western Trust has two mobile screening units used for the NHS Breast Screening programme, delivering services throughout the Trust catchment area.
From Monday 15th August there will be two screening locations:
- Mobile Unit – Shantallow Health Centre
- Mobile Unit – Dunnes Stores Car Park, Omagh
We are still operating with enhanced infection control measures and social distancing in place, which means a reduction to some of our appointment capacity. Staffing with isolation relating to COVID-19 guidance continues to be a challenge. Please keep us up to date with your contact details in case we need to contact you to reschedule your appointment at any time.
What to expect from your breast screening appointment
The symptomatic clinics, also known as the Fast Lane Breast Clinic, take place on a Wednesday, Thursday 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
- If required, 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
This type of clinic can take up to four hours depending on tests required so please plan for this. Those with special dietary requirements should consider bringing refreshments (e.g diabetics) as the unit is sited away from the main hospital.
It is asked that patients change their upper clothing items to a short dressing gown which is provided so please bear this in mind when choosing clothing to wear to the appointment (e.g trouser or skirts are most suitable as lower clothing items).
At the Fast Lane Clinic you will receive the results of any Mammography and Ultrasound examinations before you leave.
If you require a face-to-face interpreter please contact 028 7161 1309
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. For additional information and resources, please visit the Breast Family History Resources – Northern Health and Social Care Trust.
Fiona Rankin – Breast Nurse Practitioner
Gail Temple – 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.
Sometimes those with disabilities can benefit from a little extra time to complete the mammogram examination. Whilst we collaborate with learning disabilities coordinators in the Trust and regularly update our client register, we appreciate that if anyone with either a physical or learning disability may benefit from an extended appointment, to please contact our admin team on 02871 611 443 to arrange an appointment extension.
Breast Screening Presentation
This presentation describes many key aspects of the breast screening programme and hopefully will explain the features of the programme that most commonly are asked about.
Please visit the Public Health Agency website to view frequently asked questions about breast screening.
Other useful links for more information about breast screening:
Connect West App is available from the mobile apps stores for download or you can scan the QR Code below.