It can be very worrying when you have an abnormal mammography result; however, most abnormalities on a mammogram are not breast cancer. You will be offered further tests, which usually include additional mammography and breast ultrasound.

With further examination, most questionable abnormalities are found to be normal breast tissue or benign (non-cancerous) tissue. If, however, additional examinations show a new and suspicious change in one of your breasts, it is likely that small samples of breast tissue will be taken with a needle (using a local anaesthetic if necessary). These biopsy samples are examined under a microscope, and if cancer is found you will be referred to a hospital for breast surgery. Most cancers detected at screening can be treated without removing the whole breast by removing only the cancer and some of the surrounding tissue.

Quality assurance procedures in organized screening programmes aim to keep the number of further examinations to the minimum required in order to avoid missing breast cancers.