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Breast screening information

Breast screening helps find cancer at an early stage. If it’s found early, it’s easier to treat and there’s a better chance of recovery.

Breast screening involves having a mammogram of your breasts. A mammogram is an x-ray of the breast used to find breast cancer when it's too small to see or feel.

Breast screening takes place at a BreastCheck clinic or a mobile screening unit.

You'll get a letter with your results within 3 weeks of your mammogram. Your GP will also get your results.

In most cases, results are normal and no cancer is found.

Breast screening does not find all breast cancer. But screening has been proven to lower the number of women dying from breast cancer.

When you will be offered a breast screen

The risk of breast cancer increases as you get older. If you are age 50 to 69 you'll be offered breast screening every 2 years. Due to COVID-19, invitations for screening have been delayed by up to 1 year.

Your first invitation will depend on when screening is available in your area. This is normally within 2 years of your 50th birthday. Due to COVID-19, you may be 53 when you get your first invitation.

Your details should automatically be on our register. If you did not get a letter, check your name is on the breast screening register, or call the Freephone number on 1800 45 45 55.


If you are not between 50 and 69 years of age, you are not eligible for breast screening. Contact your GP if you're worried about any symptoms you may have.

Non-urgent advice: Talk to your GP if:

  • you're worried about the symptoms of breast cancer.

Screening is only for if you feel healthy or have no symptoms.

Checking your breasts

It is important to be breast aware. This means knowing what is normal for you, so you’ll notice any unusual changes.

The earlier you notice a change the better. If cancer is found early, treatment is more likely to be successful.

You should check your breasts at least once a month.

How to check your breasts

Look for any changes. Use a mirror to check your breasts from different angles. 

Feel for any changes. An easy way of feeling your breasts is in the bath or shower. You can also feel for changes while lying down.

How to check your breasts -

Symptoms of breast cancer

Screening does not find all cancers. Cancer can happen at any time, including between your screening appointments.

It is important to be aware of breast cancer symptoms, even if you went to your screening appointments.

Breast cancer symptoms can include:

  • a lump in either breast
  • a change in the size or shape of one or both breasts
  • dimpling on the skin of your breasts
  • a lump or swelling in either armpit
  • bloodstained discharge from either nipple
  • a rash on or around your nipple
  • a change in the appearance of your nipple, such as becoming sunken into your breast

See a GP right away if you have any symptoms of breast cancer.

Reduce your risk of breast cancer

The exact causes of breast cancer are not fully understood. This makes it difficult to say why some may develop breast cancer and others may not.

Certain factors can increase the risk of breast cancer. Some of these you cannot do anything about, but some you can change.

The risk of developing breast cancer increases:

  • with the amount of alcohol you drink
  • if you smoke or smoked regularly in the past
  • if you have experienced menopause
  • if you are overweight or obese

What you can do to reduce the risk of breast cancer

Translated guides to breast screening

BreastCheck screening information video

Watch this video to find out about breast screening in Ireland.

Translated videos

Our BreastCheck screening video is available in 25 languages.

BreastCheck screening translated videos

Page last reviewed: 3 November 2022
Next review due: 3 November 2025