Information & Support

What to expect at appointments


If you’ve been referred to a breast clinic by your GP or if you’ve been recalled following routine breast screening, it’s natural to feel anxious or worried.

The vast majority of people who are seen at a breast clinic will not have breast cancer. However, it’s still important to attend your breast clinic appointment so you can be fully assessed.

Your breast clinic appointment may take several hours so that all the necessary tests can be carried out. You will usually have a breast examination, followed by one or more of the following tests.

  • mammogram
  • ultrasound scan
  • core biopsy
  • fine needle aspiration (FNA)

The order in which the tests are done will vary between clinics.

You can take a partner, friend or relative with you for company and support. Some people prefer to go on their own.

You may be asked to fill in a short questionnaire before you are seen by a doctor or specialist nurse. This includes questions about:

  • any family history of breast problems
  • any medicines you’re taking, including hormone replacement therapy (HRT) or the contraceptive pill
  • any previous breast surgery, including breast implants

During your breast examination, the doctor or nurse may want to check both your breasts when you are sitting, and again when you are lying down. As part of the examination, it’s normal to examine the lymph nodes (also called glands) under your arm (axilla) and around your neck.

Having a breast examination, breast imaging (for example, a mammogram or an ultrasound scan) and tissue removal (for example, a core biopsy or FNA) is known as a triple assessment. This may be necessary to make a definite diagnosis.