Patients & Visitors

Breast Unit

Breast Cancer Pathway

This is a summary of the journey taken by patients who may have a suspected or confirmed breast cancer. It is intended as a guide and explanation of what to expect during that journey.

We will work our patients to allow them to negotiate the treatment pathway appropriate for each patient and each cancer. There maybe treatment choices available and we aim to help each individual make the correct choice for them.

Although the breast examination, mammograms and ultrasound scans can be suggestive of breast cancer, the diagnosis of breast cancer is only made for definite, following the results of a biopsy.

The biopsy is usually a small piece of tissue removed from the breast, the lymph glands in the armpit, or both using a needle in the outpatient clinic. This is done using local anaesthetic, which will numb the area. The cells removed are looked at under a microscope to determine if the breast contains a breast cancer. This result is usually available approximately a week after the biopsy has been taken.

Most diagnoses are made following this biopsy however occasionally the biopsy may need to be repeated or a surgical biopsy performed if the diagnosis is not clear-cut. Also, occasionally further x-rays or scans or biopsies may be required once a breast cancer diagnosis has been made to decide what surgical operations can be offered to each patient to treat their individual breast cancer.

When breast cancer has been diagnosed, then a treatment plan is discussed with the patient.

Breast cancer treatment can involve:

  1. Surgery
  2. Radiotherapy
  3. Chemotherapy ( +/- Trastuzamab)
  4. Endocrine Treatment (Antioestrogen e.g. Tamoxifen)

Not all patients require all of these treatments. The treatment plan will be tailored to each patient and each breast cancer. All of these treatments, if offered, would be delivered at the RUH.

Also See:




Endocrine Treatment

Care after treatment

Breast Cancer Support Groups

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