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Patients & Visitors

Breast Unit

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Overview of Diagnostics and Tests

Radiologist Dr. Dorothy Goddard explaining
mammogram results to a patient

The RUH provides an "all digital" unit, with state of the art breast imaging equipment.

Digital Mammograms have been proven to be more accurate for women under the age of 50, women with dense glandular breasts, women who are pre or peri-menopausal and women under 50 with a significant family history of breast cancer.

High Resolution ultrasound scanners are essential for looking at people with breast problems and give much more detail than general ultrasound scanners.

The images seen by the doctors are of very high quality and help in making a diagnosis.

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Tests likely to be undertaken

It is standard practice that any woman with a breast lump is offered a 'triple assessment'. Using several tests increases the thoroughness of the examination, in case any of the individual tests fails to detect an abnormality.

The triple assessment means:

Dr. Diana Dalgliesh examining a
digital mammogram image
  1. Examination

    The breast will be examined by a doctor trained in breast disease

  2. Imaging

    The breast will be imaged by x-rays (mammograms) and/or by ultrasound. The choice between mammography or ultrasound for imaging depends largely on the woman's age, although some women have both tests.

    Ultrasound alone is used more often for women under 35. Younger women's breast tissue is often very dense when features may not show on x-rays.

  3. Biopsy

    Some fluid or cells may be removed from the lump by means of a small needle through the skin: a fine needle aspiration or FNA.

    More often a core biopsy may be performed, which removes a small piece of tissue from the lump using a slightly larger needle. Local anaesthetic is usually used for these needle tests.

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When will the results be available?

Doctor Claudia Betancourt examining
a digital mammogram image

Wherever possible you will be told the results on the same day and these will be given to you by a doctor.

However, some of the tests take longer to process for results. In these cases a follow up appointment will be arranged.

If the breast specialist does not find anything at all suspicious, you may need to return for a mammogram and/or ultrasound on another day and you will receive an appointment date by post.

After the mammogram and/or ultrasound the results will be sent by post to your GP, and the referring doctor within a month.



Core Biopsy

Fine Needle Aspiration (FNA)

MRI Scan

Sentinel Lymph Node Biopsy