Breast assessment

Most patients referred to the Breast Care Units will not have cancer, but it is important to establish the correct diagnosis for each patient quickly, so the appropriate advice and treatment can be given where needed.

What will happen at the Breast Care Unit?

After you have reported to the reception, a member of staff will meet you in the waiting room, you will then be taken to a changing room and be asked to remove your clothes from above your waist. A gown will be provided for you to wear.

For males, you will be asked to remain in the waiting area and will be called through by a member of staff.

How long will I be at the clinic?

Your appointment may take between 1 to 3 hours. Friends and relatives are asked to wait in the main waiting area while patients wait for their tests in the clinic. This is to respect the privacy of other patients undressed and wearing hospital gowns. However, you may request your friend or relative to accompany you when it’s your turn to see the doctor. 

When will I get the results?

We will aim to contact you within two weeks to offer an appointment to discuss your biopsy results.

Tests and assessments

You may have some or all of the following tests:

X-ray of the breasts (mammogram)

This helps us see into the breast. We can spot lumps or other strange patterns in the tissue. This is done by a radiographer.

Breast examination

The doctor or practitioner will talk to you about your mammograms, ask you some general questions about your health, and will then examine your breasts.

Ultrasound scan

This uses sound waves to make a picture of inside the breasts. It is harmless and pain free and does not involve an x-ray. This is done by a radiologist.


Types of biopsies which may be performed:

Fine Needle Biopsy (FNA)

Fine Needle Biopsy (FNA) uses a thin, hallow centred needle to remove a sample of cells from the suspicious area for testing. This type of biopsy does not normally leave a scar.

If the lump can be felt, the clinician will feel and guide the needle to the right location for sampling. If the lump cannot be felt, an ultrasound probe will be used to guide the needle to the right location for sampling.

Core Needle Biopsy (Core Biopsy)