The screening process

Page last updated: 04 November 2014

Mammograms are performed by health professionals called radiographers. When you arrive for your appointment, the radiographer will explain to you what is going to happen.

Your mammogram will take place in a private room. You will be asked to remove your clothing from the waist up. The radiographer will then place one breast at a time between two plates on the machine. The machine will press firmly on your breast for about 10 seconds to take the picture.

Usually two pictures are taken of each breast, one from the side and one from the top. The whole appointment typically takes less than 30 minutes.

It is normal to feel discomfort if your breasts are generally tender. Please tell the radiographer at the time, as the pressure can be released.

Each time you have a mammogram, your breasts are exposed to a very small amount of radiation. Modern mammography machines use the smallest amount of radiation possible while still getting a high quality picture.

The radiation from screening is about the same as 18 weeks of exposure to natural radiation in the environment.

In this section