What to expect at our One-Stop Breast Clinic
At the Thames Breast Clinic, we aim to provide a thorough breast evaluation for every patient. To achieve this, your initial appointment may take around an hour to allow for all the necessary tests to be performed.
Initially, you will see our specialist Consultant Onco Plastic Breast Surgeon who will take a detailed history about your concerns as well as your past medical history. If you have details of your previous procedures or treatments relating to your breasts, please bring these along to your appointment. Following this, you will undergo a thorough breast examination in the presence of a breast care nurse. Once this has been performed, the Consultant will decide what imaging tests are required. These usually include an ultrasound scan of the breasts, mammography or both.
An ultrasound scan of the breasts is the usual diagnostic investigation for patients under 35 and is also an additional investigation for most patients having mammogram. A gel is spread over the breasts and an ultrasound probe is passed over the area. This produces an image of the breast tissue which allows the Thames Breast Clinic Consultant Radiologist to look at the internal architecture of the breast tissue. A breast ultrasound scan is painless.
Digital mammography is a specialized state of the art diagnostic x-ray for examining the breasts. It is used mainly for patients over 35. In order to perform a mammogram the breast is compressed. Some women may find this uncomfortable. Once complete, the Thames Breast Clinic Consultant Radiologist prepares a report for the Consultant Surgeon.
If during your clinical examination or breast imaging, an abnormality is noted, your Consultant may recommend obtaining a biopsy. This is frequently in the form of a core biopsy. This uses a specialized needle to obtain a very small piece of breast tissue. Local anaesthetic is used to make the area numb before the biopsy is taken. A small cut is then made in the breast and the core biopsy needled inserted to take samples. The tissue is sent away for examination (histopathology) and takes 1 or 2 days for the result to be available. Occasionally, the Consultant may opt to perform a fine needle aspiration for cytology (FNAC) test. In this case, the Consultant takes a small sample of cells from the breast lump and sends them away for examination (cytology) for any signs of abnormality within the cells. The needle used is the same size as a normal needle used for a blood test. A similar technique is used to remove fluid that forms a breast cyst if required.
Sometimes, specialized biopsy techniques may be required, particularly if the lump can be seen on a mammogram but not felt. Supplementary imaging in the form of a breast MRI or a 3D mammogram may also be recommended. If these are required, your Consultant will discuss this you in detail.
Once you have undergone your imaging (and biopsy if required), you will then again meet with the Consultant Onco Plastic Breast Surgeon, who will explain the findings to you. You will also have an opportunity to ask further questions. If needed, a follow up appointment will be arranged.
At the Thames Breast Clinic, we understand that some patients will be anxious during their appointment. Please be assured that all our staff are dedicated to supporting patients and thus throughout your visit, you will be supported by one of our breast care nurses.