Breast screening programme

One in eight women will develop breast cancer at some time in their life. Breast cancer is more common in women over 50. Breast screening can help to find small changes in the breast before there are any other signs or symptoms. If changes are found at an early stage, there is a good chance of a successful outcome.

The programme makes sure that if you are aged between 50 and 70 we will invite you for breast screening.

The screening programme will get your details from your DH registration. This record is made up from your doctor’s list so it is important that your doctor always has your correct name and address. If you move from the UK, or move to the UK in the future, your breast screening record will transfer to your new area.

As long as you are registered with a doctor in the Isle of Man we will start calling you in the year you turn 50.

Women over the age of 70 are not automatically invited for breast screening. However, you can still refer yourself for screening by contacting the breast screening appointments service directly to make an appointment, on 685339.

You will be invited for your screening by the Great Manchester Breast Screening Service, who are undertaking the administrative process of the Isle of Man Breast Screening call/recall programme.

The Breast Screening Unit is based at:

Breast Screening Centre
Manx Breast Unit
Ground Floor West Wing
Nobles Hospital
Isle of Man

Reliability of screening

Mammography is the most reliable way of detecting breast cancer early but, like other screening tests, it is not perfect.

For example:

  • Some cancers are very difficult to see on the x-ray
  • Mammograms can sometimes pick up cancers that cannot be felt as a lump
  • Some cancers, even though they are there, cannot be seen on the x-ray at all
  • The person reading the x-ray may miss the cancer (this will happen occasionally, no matter how experienced the reader is)
  • Screening can lead to unnecessary investigations and anxiety for some women. The Advisory Committee on Breast Cancer Screening shows that for every 2,000 women who are invited to join a programme over 10 years, five will have their lives prolonged and eight will be diagnosed and receive treatment even though they may have survived without intervention.

Screening and breast cancer 

Breast screening does not prevent breast cancer it only helps find breast cancer if it is already there. You should be aware of any changes in your breasts because breast cancer can develop at any time. Some women will develop breast cancer before their first mammogram or between mammograms.

There is a simple five-point breast awareness code that all women should remember:

  • Know what is normal for you.
  • Look at and feel your breasts.
  • Know what changes to look for (lumps in breast or armpit, pain, discharge from the nipple or anything else unusual).
  • Tell your doctor about any changes immediately.
  • Consider attending for breast screening every two years if you are over 50.

There are many reasons for changes in the breast. Most of them are harmless but you should get all of them checked as there is a small chance that they could be the first sign of cancer.

Breast awareness and regular mammograms together offer you the best chance of finding breast cancer early.


The main benefits and difficulties of screening for breast cancer are explained below:

  • Most breast cancers are found at an early stage when there is a good chance of a successful recovery.
  • Around half the cancers that are found at screening are still small enough to be removed from the breast. This means that the whole breast does not have to be removed.
  • Nationally, breast screening saves an estimated 1,400 lives each year
  • We will call back some women for more investigations if we are not sure about their mammogram. After more tests, we will find that many of these women will not have cancer.
  • Screening may miss a small percentage of breast cancers.
  • Not all breast cancers that are found at screening can be cured.
  • Some women find mammography uncomfortable or painful, but normally just for a brief period of time.
  • Screening can lead to unnecessary investigations and anxiety for some women.  

Further information and support

If you have any questions about the service, you can:

  • ask your doctor
  • for appointment queries, telephone: +44 1624 685339
  • for assessment queries, telephone: +44 1624 642570