Test / Diagnostic Procedure: Breast screening if you have symptoms

If you are showing breast symptoms, your screening pathway will be different from regular breast screening.

Investigations for symptomatic patients

If you have found a lump or any other concerning breast cancer symptoms in your breast or armpit, please contact us. We can arrange an appointment for you to see one of our breast surgeons, who can asses you and recommend the next steps which may include a mammogram or an ultrasound scan. Our administrative team can advise on costs, if you do not have private health insurance but would like to self-pay.

Other forms of investigations and breast cancer prevention include:


An ultrasound scan is performed when a change in the breast tissue is felt, or when an abnormality is detected on the mammogram. This modality is often performed in conjunction with mammography and can be used if the breast tissue is dense, or if the patient is under the age of 40.

The breast radiologist uses a hand held transducer which is slowly moved across the breast; high frequency sound waves are emitted which, in turn, create a detailed image on a monitor. There are no known risks.


Your biopsy will be performed by the Radiologist usually using Ultrasound or possibly mammography guidance. While exam or imaging tests may suggest that breast cancer is present, tissue samples are ultimately needed to make the diagnosis, as well as determine the type of cancer and other characteristics.

Whichever type of imaging is utilized to guide the biopsy, the current standard of care at the completion of a biopsy is often the placement of a biopsy site marker. The marker is very small and the and the metal component is about the size of a sesame seed. This biopsy clip serves as a marker documenting where the tissue was sampled in the breast.

Ultrasound-guided breast biopsy does not involve exposure to ionizing radiation like x-ray (mammography) does. It is less invasive and usually leaves little or no scarring.

Ultrasound Guided Core Biopsy

After local anaesthetic is injected using a very small needle into the overlying skin and then breast at the site of the sampling, the Radiologist uses the ultrasound images to guide a biopsy needle to the concerning area. Subsequently a small amount of tissue is taken from this area of the breast. Several samples may be taken to ensure that a sufficient amount of tissue is tested. These samples are then sent to our Pathology lab for thorough and detailed examination. The results will be available usually within 48 hours, although this can be longer on occasions as sometimes the results have to be verified at a multidisciplinary team meeting.

Fine Needle Aspiration

This involves inserting a thin needle through the skin in order to collect a sample of cells or fluid. It is particularly helpful in distinguishing fluid-filled cysts from solid masses. This procedure is performed by the Radiologist using the ultrasound machine to guide them.

Vacuum-Assisted Core Biopsy/Excision

The vacuum-assisted biopsy-excision technique is performed under local anaesthesia using either ultrasound or mammography equipment.

It is a tissue sampling technique using imaging guidance to remove slightly larger samples of breast tissue through a single, small incision in the skin. It is often a second line test and can be done instead of surgery to remove very tiny lumps in just a few minutes.

The Radiologist gently rotates the needle which aids the removal of the breast tissue; the suction of the biopsy machine is quite noisy, but the actual biopsy process does not take long. The tissue sample is collected and sent to the laboratory for testing. A 2 mm marker clip is routinely placed at the site of the biopsy. This is to ensure that we can identify the area that was sampled and return to the site if required. If we do not require to return to the site the marker clip remains within the breast with no adverse effects.

Re-call from NHS routine screening

If you have recently been recalled via the NHS Breast Screening Program for further assessment but decide to have your assessment performed with private healthcare at Enhanced Breast Screening at OneWelbeck we can facilitate this either through self pay orĀ  private healthcare insurance. With your permission, we will request your previous screening imaging via the Image Exchange Portal (IEP) prior to your visit. We can offer full further assessment as clinically appropriate, using further tests such as tomosynthesis, magnification views, ultrasound scan, and needle biopsy if required. Biopsy results are usually available within 48 working hours.

During treatment for breast cancer

Chemotherapy surveillance - If you are having chemotherapy as treatment for breast cancer, it is recommended to have an ultrasound every 3-6 months to measure the progress of your treatment. At OneWelbeck, we can carry these out for you and provide the results to your consultant.

After treatment for breast cancer

Annual surveillance imaging - After treatment for breast cancer, it is recommended that you have regular imaging once a year to check that your symptoms have not returned. We can provide these scans and send the results to your consultant as necessary.