Tests may include any of the following:
Which is an x-ray of the breast tissue. You will be positioned so that your breast is placed on the x-ray machine and gently but firmly squashed (compressed) with a flat, clear, plastic plate.
Most women find this uncomfortable and for some women it is painful for a short time. You will need to stay still for less than a minute while an x-ray is taken. It is advisable to avoid using deodorant, perfume, powder or ointment on the breast or underarm area on the day of the mammogram as it may interfere with the reading.
This uses sound waves to build up a picture of the breast tissue. The doctor will put gel on to the breast and gently rub a small microphone-like device over the affected area. The scan does not hurt. You will simply feel gentle pressure on the skin. There are no known side effects and the test only takes a few minutes.
Fine Needle Aspiration (FNA) Cytology
This is a quick, simple procedure which is performed in the outpatient clinic or x-ray department under ultrasound guidance. Using a fine needle and syringe, the doctor takes a sample of cells from the breast lump and sends it to the laboratory for examination. A dry dressing is applied over the area and this can be removed when you get home.
Needle (Core) Biospsy
This is a procedure often carried out in the x-ray department with the aid of an ultrasound scan. Under local anaesthetic, a tiny cut is made in the skin and the doctor uses a special biopsy needle to take a small piece of tissue from the lump or abnormal area. Several biopsies are sometimes required at the same time and the samples are then sent to the laboratory to be looked at by a pathologist (a doctor who looks at the tissue and cells under the microscope). A small dressing is applied over the area with a pressure dressing on top. You may remove this pressure dressing after 48 hours and the remaining dressing 2-3 days later.
After the tests, we may be able to provide some preliminary results, but your biopsy results will be given to you at your next appointment, usually within 2 weeks. We appreciate that this waiting period can be an anxious time for you and it may help to talk about your worries with a Specialist Breast Care Nurse who can give you advice and support during this difficult time. We recommend that you bring a relative or a friend when you come back for your test results.
You will be offered information leaflets regarding your particular condition. The Specialist Breast Care Nurse or the clinic nurse will ensure all your queries are satisfactorily answered. We hope that you will appreciate the quick service we are able to offer most of our patients.