Having follow up tests

Follow up tests are done at our Assessment Clinics. The tests you have will depend on your breast screening result.

Assessment Clinic tests

Clinical breast exam

Our doctors and nurses are trained to perform physical breast exams to look for changes that might need further investigation.

Breast self-exams aren’t a good alternative to regular breast screens. You should see your doctor if you notice any changes to the normal look and feel of your breasts.

Detailed breast x-ray

Sometimes it can be helpful for our doctors to have a closer look at the abnormality seen on your breast screen.

Breast ultrasound

Ultrasounds use sound waves to show detail of breast tissue.

Ultrasounds are proven to be a good way of investigating abnormalities seen on a breast screen. Research shows that they’re not effective at screening women with no signs or symptoms of breast cancer.

Needle biopsy

Needle biopsies involve using a needle to take a small sample of breast tissue. The sample is then tested to see if it’s cancer. You’ll need to have a local anaesthetic that will numb an area of your breast so you don’t feel the needle but you’ll be awake.

What happens at a BreastScreen Queensland Assessment Clinic

This video explains what happens when clients are asked to come back for more tests after their breast screen.

It covers things like:

  • how to prepare for your appointment
  • the kinds of tests you may have
  • what happens after your appointment.

After a breast screen, some women need follow up tests after review of your breast X-rays by our specialised doctors.

If you fall into this group, it doesn't mean you have cancer. It just means that something needs a closer look at one of our free Assessment Clinics located across the state. After the follow up assessment tests, most women have normal results and go back on the regular two-year screening program.

When you visit for your appointment, please don't wear talcum powder or deodorant as it can affect your breast screen. We do suggest you wear a separate top and bottom so that your bottom half is covered during assessment.

When arriving, you'll be welcomed by our friendly receptionist. Our team of doctors, nurses and radiographers will work together to decide what tests you need and will talk about it with you. Of course, you can ask them questions at any time during your visit.

Assessment clinic tests can include a clinical breast exam, a detailed breast X-ray, a breast ultrasound, and a needle biopsy. You may not have all of these tests, and most women will not need a needle biopsy. You might be at the clinic for several hours depending on which of these you have.

Let's talk about the tests in a little more detail.

A clinical breast exam involves the doctor or nurse doing a physical examination of your breast tissue, as well as the glands under your arms and in your neck. They'll check if they can see or feel any lumps or any other abnormal changes.

A detailed breast X-ray is like a breast screen. You may have one or more of these at the assessment clinic. Our doctors can sometimes find it helpful to have a closer look at the abnormality seen on your breast screen.

Breast ultrasounds use sound waves to show the detail of breast tissue. Ultrasounds are a good way of investigating some abnormalities seen on a breast screen.

In a biopsy we use a local anaesthetic to numb the area, then use a special needle to take a tiny sample of tissue from your breast. We then send the sample away for testing.

We'll give you your results from all your tests as soon as we know them. Most results will be given to you on the day, and some may take longer.

Sometimes it's not possible to tell from the tests if there is cancer present. If this happens, you might need some more tests.

Most women have normal assessment results. A very small number of women will be diagnosed with breast cancer.

If you are diagnosed with breast cancer, one of our doctors or a nurse counsellor will talk to you about your results. With your consent, they'll also send the result to your doctor and make sure you are referred to a public or private specialist for treatment in a timely manner. Our doctors and nurses will talk to you about what happens next and where you can get more information and support.

Call your local BreastScreen Queensland service on 13 20 50 or visit breastscreen.qld.gov.au if you want more information about Assessment Clinics.

How long will I be at the Assessment Clinic?

The amount of time that you spend at an Assessment Clinic will depend on the tests that you need. This will be decided on the day by a team of specialist doctors. You may be at the clinic for several hours.

When will I get the results?

After your tests, a team of doctors will look at your results. You’ll usually get your results on the same day, but some may take longer.

Most women who attend an Assessment Clinic will receive a normal result. If you receive a normal result, you’ll be invited to attend another breast screen when you're due.

What if I’m diagnosed with breast cancer?

A very small number of women - about 6 out of 1000 - who have a breast screen will be diagnosed with breast cancer. If you’re diagnosed with breast cancer, one of our doctors or a nurse counsellor will talk to you about your results. They'll also talk to you about what will happen next, and where you can get more information and support.

Last updated: June 2024