An assessment by a specialist breast doctor who is experienced in breast screening, breast disease (whether benign or cancerous), with access to all breast imaging modalities and who works as part of a multidisciplinary team, can help you make a diagnosis for any of your breast concerns.
Why do I need a breast examination?
Anyone (female or male) who is concerned about a change in their breast(s), be it a lump, thickening, swelling, skin dimple, contour or size change, rash, nipple discharge, retracted nipple or discomfort should have their breasts examined.
How does it work?
Assessment starts with a detailed history of your breast complaint, your risk factors for breast cancer and your general health. A physical examination is then carried out by observation of any changes in your breasts and then the breast and underarm areas are felt for any lumps or thickening. Investigations like a mammogram or breast ultrasound are often useful for additional information and can often be performed during the same visit. More detailed investigations like breast MRI may be advised for certain women and are usually done at a separate visit.
If a solid lump, tissue change, atypical microcalcifications or fluid are detected, cells or tissue are obtained using a needle (fine needle aspirate or core biopsy) and sent for examination under the microscope. The cells or tissue sample undergo histological processing which takes 2-3 days before the result is ready. It is best to make an appointment to receive the results by your doctor who will explain the findings and further management.
Frequently asked questions
How do I know if this procedure is right for me?
If you notice a change in your breast that persists beyond one menstrual cycle, it is worth having it checked out either by your GP or a specialist breast doctor. Those who have a family history of a relative with breast cancer may be at a higher risk of breast cancer.
How long does the procedure take?
The clinical examination takes less than a half hour. More time is necessary for a mammogram, breast ultrasound and for the results.
How much does this procedure cost?
Additional costs for investigations.
Are there any potential side effects?
It is usual to have some bruising in the area tested if you have a needle aspirate or core biopsy for tissue diagnosis. Mild analgesia is sometimes recommended for a few days.
Some women experience short-lived discomfort or pain during a mammogram with the breast tissue compressed momentarily.
Also known as breast augmentation or a ‘boob job’, surgery involves increasing the size of the breasts by the use of implants or lipomodelling (lipofilling/free fat transfer).
Breast reduction is beneficial for women who have breasts that are heavy and/or large in proportion to their body build or for those with asymmetrical sized breasts.
Known as a Mastopexy, this procedure involves reducing the skin envelope of the breasts and repositioning the nipple-areolae to match the new shape.