Breast cancer is a major cause of suffering and death and is of significant concern to many women. Early detection of breast cancer by systematic mammography screening can find lesions for which treatment is more effective and generally more favourable for quality of life. The potential harm caused by mammography includes the creation of unnecessary anxiety and morbidity, inappropriate economic cost and the use of ionising radiation. It is for this reason that the strongest possible emphasis on quality control and quality assurance is required. Development of the European Guidelines for Quality Assurance in Breast Cancer Screening and Diagnosis has been an initiative within the Europe Against Cancer Programme. The fourth edition of the multidisciplinary guidelines was published in 2006 and comprises approximately 400 pages divided into 12 chapters prepared by >200 authors and contributors. The multidisciplinary editorial board has prepared a summary document to provide an overview of the fundamental points and principles that should support any quality screening or diagnostic service. This document includes a summary table of key performance indicators and is presented here in order to make these principles and standards known to a wider scientific community.