Attending a new referral clinic

Why have I been referred to a breast clinic?

GPs diagnose and treat many illnesses themselves. However, occasionally they may need to arrange for you to see a hospital doctor who specialises in a particular problem for more specialist care. You may have been referred to a breast clinic for a number of reasons, such as:

  • Your GP feels your symptoms need further investigation
  • Treatment your GP has already prescribed has not been effective
  • Investigations your GP has already arranged have shown some unusual findings
  • To confirm your GP’s conclusions

Most patients referred to the breast clinic will not have cancer. It is important to establish the correct diagnosis for each patient quickly so that appropriate advice and treatment can be given.


Do I need to make any special preparations before attending the clinic?

You will be asked to remove all your clothes above your waist for the examination, so you may want to wear a top and trousers or a skirt instead of a dress.

As you may be having a mammogram (see below), it is important that you do not wear talcum powder. Additionally, please make sure there is no deodorant, antiperspirant or perfume on your breasts.


How long will I be at the clinic?

The breast clinic sees a lot of women and sometimes there may be delays. The clinic will do their best to keep you informed if this is the case. You may have several different tests while at the clinic. Generally all the tests will take place on the same day. This is not because it’s medically essential but because it is usually more convenient for you. We can’t always say how long your visit will take but it helps if you free up three to four hours to ensure you have time for all the tests you need. In most cases the visit will be much shorter than this. In a few cases the clinic may need to ask you to come back for some further more specialised tests. Your doctor or breast care nurse will tell you if this is necessary.

You can find out how to get to City Hospital to attend your appointment here.


What will happen at the new patient clinic at the breast institute?

At the clinic you will be asked some questions about:

  • Your symptoms
  • Any previous health problems
  • Any medications you take
  • Your lifestyle

You will also be examined by a member of the team. You will need to have your breasts, armpits and the area around your neck examined on both sides. You may also need other areas of the body examining.

You can always have someone in the room with you during the examination (either a friend or relative or one of the clinic support staff).

We may recommend some tests.

What tests might I have?


A mammogram is the name for an X-ray of the breast. During the mammogram, your breast will be compressed for a few seconds in order to visualise the breast tissue. This pressure may be uncomfortable or a little painful, but the test will be over quickly. All X-rays involve radiation but with mammograms the dose is very low.

Ultrasound scan

Ultrasound is particularly helpful in patients presenting with a lump. If you are under 40 this may be the only breast imaging required. Gel is put on the breast and a small hand-held sensor is moved over the skin so that the breast can be viewed. The scan is painless and lasts around 5-10 minutes.

Please note you may need to have both ultrasound and mammogram.

Core biopsy

Some patients may need a core biopsy to further examine an area of the breast. First the area will be numbed and then a needle will be used to remove a piece of tissue from the breast. The breast tissue can then be looked at under a microscope to see if there are any abnormalities. 

Blood tests

Blood tests may be recommended.

Other tests

Any other tests that are required will be explained to you.

Test results

Most patients will either be given their test results in clinic or will receive a letter.

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