What happens at your breast clinic appointment

Being asked to attend a breast clinic appointment

Referred by your GP

Your GP may refer you to a breast clinic if you have a symptom or breast change that needs investigating. GPs follow guidance when deciding whether to refer you to a breast clinic. This guidance also outlines how quickly you should be seen, depending on your symptoms and your age.

The vast majority of people referred to a breast clinic do not have cancer. They may have normal breast changes or a benign (not cancer) condition.

However, the sooner breast cancer is diagnosed, the more successful treatment is likely to be. So it’s important to go to your appointment so you can be fully assessed.



What to expect at the breast clinic

Your visit to the breast clinic may take several hours so that all the necessary tests can be carried out. You can take someone with you for company or support. Some people prefer to go on their own. 

You may want to think about what clothes to wear for your tests, you may want to wear a top that’s easy to remove.

You may be asked to fill in a short questionnare before youa re seen by a doctor or specialist nurse. This includes questions about:

  • any family history of breast problems
  • any medicins you're taking, including hormone replacement therapy (HRT) or the contraceptive pill
  • any previous breast surgery, including breast implants

This will be followed by a breast examination. The doctor or nurse may want to to check both your breasts when you are sitting , and again when you are lying down. As part of the examination, its normal to examine the lymph nodes (also called glands) under your arm (axilla) and around your neck.

If you have ben referred from a breast screening clinic, you may notr have a breast examination.

Your may then need to have further test. These will usually include one or more of the following:

  • mammogram
  • ultrasound scan
  • core biopsy

The order in which the tests are done will vary between clinics. 

Having a breast examination, breast imaging (for example, a mammogram or an ultrasound scan) and tissue removed (for example, a core biopsy) is known as a triple assessment. This may be necessary to make a definite diagnosis.

Your assessment may be done in a one-stop clinic. This is weher all tests are carried our during your visit to the clinic. Some test result may be available later that day, but if you have a core biopsy this will take longer. In some cases you may be asked to make another appointment to finish your tests or to get your results.