Full diagnostic assessment

Most of the patients presenting with breast symptoms do not have breast cancer and only a small number (less than 7 per cent in our unit) of all new breast referrals are found to have breast cancer. The full diagnostic assessment comprises of combination of clinical breast examination, imaging and biopsy to minimise the chance of missing cancer. Note that none of the currently available diagnostic techniques are 100 per cent accurate and the combination of these methods provides best possible chance to detect cancer.

What to expect at first visit

The breast clinic - Clinic 4A, is located on the 4th floor in the out-patients building. At the clinic reception you would be asked to fill in a questionnaire before seeing your doctor.

The questionnaire provides the information about your symptoms to your doctor. If you wish you could download it by clicking here . If you have not downloaded this information electronically, please bring it with you to your appointment. If not you must complete this form prior to seeing your doctor to inform him about:
  • Any information related to other medical conditions.
  • A list of all the prescription medications you are taking.
  • A list of any known drug allergies
  • Any test results about your current condition.

You would be seen by one of our surgical team doctors. All newly referred patients will be first offered clinical breast examination by a breast surgeon. If you are above 35 years, your doctor is most likely to request some form of breast imaging for you. For women younger than 35 years the breast imaging is usually requested for only those who are found to have lumps or other localised breast findings on clinical breast examination.

Breast Imaging

Our imaging department is located on the third floor of main building. Mammogram and breast ultrasound are two most common breast imaging techniques. Mammogram is generally avoided in young women (women below age of 35 yrs) and in pregnant or lactating women.

Breast biopsy or cytology

A breast lump or another lesion that is found on clinical examination and/or imaging will most likely be biopsied to obtain histological diagnosis unless stated otherwise by your doctor. Different needle biopsy techniques such are available and the needle biopsy is performed under local anaesthesia and generally well tolerated by most of the patients. You may get some skin bruising after the biopsy and it usually settles within a couple of weeks. If you are taking any blood thining medications such as warfarrin, please let your doctor know.

A few types of benign breast lumps such as simple cysts, lipoma, hamartoma, intramammary lymph node, that are not suspicious on both clinical examination and imaging may not require biopsy and your doctor will provide you further information if needed.

Subsequent visits and results

Majority of the newly referred patients in whom the clinical examination and breast imaging do not identify any worrying findings will not need second visit. These patients will be given the results of their imaging and clinical examination in the same visit.

A small number of newly referred patients will undergo some form of biopsy. These patients will be called within a few days to give them the result of their biopsy.

Last updated16 Apr 2013
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