Assessment Clinic Appointments

Why have I been sent an appointment for the assessment clinic?

If an area of concern is identified in your screening mammograms, you will be given a further invitation to the breast screening service. This appointment will be at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital, where further investigations will take place.

When you arrive at the assessment clinic, you will be met by the receptionist, who confirms your details.

A radiographer will then call you into a private area to discuss the reason you have been called back. If any more mammographic tests are needed, the radiographer will do them at this stage, with your permission.

Not all women will need more mammograms to be taken.

What are specialist mammographic views?

Depending on the type of abnormality seen on the original screening mammograms, different views of the breast may be needed. It might involve taking 3D mammograms, or a new mammogram of the whole breast in a different plane, or it may be necessary for the radiographer to measure on the skin and compress a smaller area of the breast.

If this is needed, it will be discussed during the appointment.

After seeing the radiographer, you will be asked to return to the waiting room until the consultant radiologist or consultant radiographer is available. They will perform a clinical examination of the breast and an ultrasound examination.

Breast ultrasound

What is breast ultrasound?

This is similar to the ultrasound used for pregnant women. It is a painless examination of the breast using sound waves. The examination is performed while you are lying down; some jelly is applied to the skin and a probe is passed over the breast to produce a picture on the screen.

What is a needle or core biopsy?

Sometimes the consultant may decide a breast biopsy is necessary. This involves injecting local anaesthetic into the breast, and the introduction of a special needle designed to take a small sample of tissue for analysis by a pathologist.

The majority of breast biopsies are performed using ultrasound for guidance, which can take 10-30 minutes. Some breast biopsies will need to be performed using mammographic (X-ray) guidance.

Breast biopsy using X-ray control. This is usually done with the patient laying down.

What is an X-ray guided biopsy?

For this procedure, you will be required to lie on a special table, on your side or sit upright. The breast will be positioned and compressed as it would be during a mammogram. Local anaesthetic is injected into the breast before the insertion of the biopsy needle.  Whilst the biopsy is being taken, there is a sensation of pulling within the breast. This procedure can take up to an hour.

When will I get my results?

The results from the assessment clinic depend on whether a biopsy is needed.

Should it be necessary to perform a needle/core biopsy, it will take a week for the pathologist to process the test, and you would need to return the following week for the result.  An appointment will be made following the biopsy.

If no biopsy is required it may be possible to give a result on the day.

Is there anyone to talk to?

The breast screening service has a team of specialist nurses. They are available to give support and advice to women who are undergoing diagnostic tests and who have been diagnosed with breast cancer.

If you wish to speak to one of the breast care nurses, please phone 01603 286728