Mammogram - 6 Myths Debunked

Our radiologist Johanna Kelsey debunks six common myths about having a mammogram.


Mammogram - 6 Myths Debunked

Whether you’ve yet to have your first screening mammogram or have been getting them for years, Johanna Kelsey, lead radiographer at OneWelbeck Women’s Health in London dispels some common mammogram myths…

"We need to get the information out there," says Johanna Kelsey, lead radiographer at our Women's Health centre "There are many misconceptions about mammograms regarding when or at what age you can get one, and it’s really important that people know the truth. Prevention is better than cure, and this information could save your life."

Below, Johanna reveals six things every woman needs to know about mammography.

1. You need to be 50+ for a mammogram screening

Our Women’s Health centre is unique in the aspect that once you have turned 40, you are eligible to have a mammogram (Enhanced Breast Screening) with us, as opposed to waiting until you are 50 under the NHS.

"The idea that you are only eligible to have a mammogram once you’re 50 is a complete myth," Johanna explains. "There’s a stigma that the NHS will only call when it’s appropriate, but the reality is they are unfortunately understaffed, on a budget and incredibly busy. Many medical colleagues and GPs I know weren’t aware of this information, so it’s really important to raise awareness and start getting checked as soon as possible to detect a potential cancer." she says.

In addition, once you turn 70 you are no longer eligible for screening under the NHS, but you can still self-request one at our Women’s Health centre.

Our Enhanced Breast Screening uses tomosynthesis, a form of 3D mammogram technology that can identify abnormalities much more clearly on the x-ray. ‘As a result of such advanced technology, we pick up more anomalies in test results, and consequently 40 per cent of our patients receive follow-up needle testing to ensure they are healthy,’ Johanna says.

"By getting screened earlier at 40, we are able to detect abnormalities or breast lumps and reach a diagnosis earlier, more often than not resolving them with minor surgery. This prevents what may have manifested into something more harmful or even breast cancer by the time you reach 50."

2. You have to be referred for a mammogram

“You do not have to be referred to have a mammogram” Johanna explains. “There is a misunderstanding that asymptomatic women who need a screening, have to be seen by their GP or breast surgeon, but this is not the case."

At our Women’s Health centre, you will save your money and your time by visiting the clinic directly and receiving your results on the same day. All women 40 and above should consider getting a mammogram as it will help care for you long-term health and prevent serious issues from developing.

3. Mammogram radiation levels can put your body at risk

"If you’d questioned me about concerns over radiation 30 years ago, my answer would have been different. I completely understand those who are anxious about potential toxicity entering their body, but with today’s modern and safe technology, radiation is of minimal concern, and getting a mammogram can help to preserve your long-term health," Johanna says.

4. Mammograms are 100% pain-free

“We can’t promise that it is 100% pain-free, but when I do the mammograms on my patients, it’s important for them to know why we must compress the breast. She explains that the equipment is cold on the skin, but the more relaxed the patient is, the more comfortable the mammogram will be. Our radiologists also teach patients breathing techniques to help them relax the muscles, making the mammogram more comfortable. The more relaxed patients are, the clearer and more precise the images will be, and it will drastically improve their experience.

Our appointments are 30 minutes long, with the scan taking no longer than five minutes. This allows ample time for you to relax and enjoy a chat with your radiographer beforehand.

5. Mammograms don't work well on smaller breasts

“There’s a misconception that mammograms don’t work well on women who have small breasts, because they have less tissue, which is simply not the case. We have a compression paddle that is pressed onto the tissue to keep it still and prevent any blurring.” Johanna says.  We have various sized paddles that cater to different breast sizes, making mammograms possible for women no matter their breast shape or size.

6. Mammograms can't be done on breast implants

“Another myth is that you shouldn’t get a mammogram if you have breast implants, this is not correct. I would encourage all women aged 40+ to get a mammogram, no matter what the circumstance.”

Our centre can use ultrasound as well as a mammogram for those with implants, to thoroughly scan the breast, and any tissue concealed by the implant. “This ensures we are analysing all parts of the breast tissue and not missing any potential breast lumps or abnormalities that may need further inspection.” Johanna explains.

How to book a screening mammogram at OneWelbeck

Booking your screening appointment at OneWelbeck is simple – visit our booking portal to book your private screening today. Alternatively, you can call us on 020 3653 2008, or email our team at

Please note we can only offer private mammograms for patients who are currently not showing any breast cancer symptoms. If you have found a lump or any other concerning symptoms in your breast, it is advised to contact your GP or your private health insurer as soon as possible.