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Tests to diagnose

If you have breast symptoms, your GP usually refers you to a breast clinic. It might be a one-stop clinic where you have several tests during one visit (a triple asessment). The tests can diagnose breast cancer and other breast conditions. You have an examination of your breast and an ultrasound scan and breast x-ray (mammogram). If these tests show an abnormal area, a doctor or nurse takes a sample of tissue (a biopsy). They send it to the laboratory for testing. You might also have other tests.

Mammogram

Find out about having a mammogram to check abnormal areas in the breast, what this test can find, and what happens afterwards.

Breast ultrasound

A breast ultrasound scan uses sound waves to create a picture of the breast tissue. It can help to diagnose breast cancer and other breast conditions.

Fine needle aspiration

Find out about having a fine needle aspiration to diagnose breast cancer or other breast conditions.

Needle biopsy

A needle biopsy takes a sample of cells from the breast to look at under the microscope. Find out how you have it and what happens afterwards.

Punch biopsy

A punch biopsy takes a sample of cells from the skin of the breast to look at under the microscope. Find out what happens.

Vacuum assisted biopsy

A vacuum assisted biopsy uses a special needle attached to a vacuum device to take samples of breast tissue for examination.

Wire guided excision biopsy

Wire guided excision biopsy means putting a thin wire into an abnormal area of breast tissue. This pinpoints an area to be removed with surgery. 

Breast MRI scan

A breast MRI scan can show changes in the breast tissue by using magnetism and radio waves to create pictures.

Tests on your breast cancer cells

Find out about tests on breast cancer cells that help doctors to know which treatments you should have.

Last reviewed: 
29 Sep 2017

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