The initial step

This is usually a consultation with a Breast Surgeon unless you have already had an operation, in which case you may be referred directly for radiotherapy or chemotherapy.

After the consultation you will go to the imaging department where mammography (if you are over the age of 35 years) and ultrasonography (scan) will be carried out – sometimes with MRI in addition.

If a localised abnormality is detected a biopsy under local anaesthetic may be performed – this is frequently done with ultra sound control for increased accuracy and reliability. It is known as a core-biopsy.

The small cylinders of tissue are send for analysis to the pathologist. This takes a few days and an appointment will be made to discuss the result.

Main treatments for breast cancer care

Surgery

This can include breast conservation surgery (lumpectomy), or a mastectomy.

Radiotherapy

This may include Image Guided Radiotherapy (IGRT), conformal, Intensity Modulated Radiotherapy or Volumetric Arc Therapy (IMRT/RapidArc) and respiratory gated radiotherapy.

Chemotherapy

Drug therapy which may include:

  • Chemotherapy
  • Hormone therapy
  • Biological therapy (targeted therapy)

You may have one of these treatments or a combination. The type of treatment or the combination of treatments will depend on how the cancer was diagnosed and the stage it is at. Breast cancer diagnosed at screening may be at an early stage, but breast cancer diagnosed when you have symptoms may be at a later stage and require a different treatment. Your team will discuss with you which treatments are most suitable.