Your questions answered

Breast Clinic - FAQs

  • Q: What is breast core biopsy?

  • Q: What happens during a breast core biopsy?

  • Q: How long does a breast biopsy take?

  • Q: What are the benefits of a breast core biopsy?

  • Q: What are the risks of a breast biopsy?

  • Q: Who does the breast core biopsy?

  • Q: When can I expect the results of my breast core biopsy?

  • Q: Do breast implants alter the risk of breast cancer?

  • Q: If I have an implant, what can I do about detecting breast cancer?

  • Q: What are the limitations of mammography with implants?

  • Q: What are the risks of mammography with implants?


Ultrasound imaging uses sound waves, by passing a flat probe across the breast. Compression is not necessary. Ultrasound provides further diagnostic information if an abnormality is noted during mammography or physical examination.

Ultrasound is useful for women in whom mammography is unsuitable. Ultrasound is not as effective as mammography in screening for some types of breast cancer. It does not detect the specific kinds of early breast cancer which can only be seen with mammography.

For ​most women, both mammography and ultrasound are necessary. Neither mammography nor ultrasound will detect all types of breast cancer.

Ultrasound may show the presence of a leak of silicone from an implant within the breast, but will not provide information about the condition of the implant envelope.

Breast self-examination

If you notice any changes in your breast, discuss them with your doctor or clinic staff where you have your mammogram.


Cysts are collections of fluids which occur in breast tissue. Approximately 60% of women will have at least one cyst during their lifetime. They are usually small and do not cause problems, but may increase in size, form a lump, or cause pain or tenderness.

Cysts occur most commonly between the ages of 35 and 50 years,  They are uncommon after menopause except in women on Hormone Replacement Therapy, but can occur in women of all ages. They do not require treatment unless causing symptoms. Cysts can be emptied by withdrawing fluid through a needle.


Fibroadenomas are very common nodules in the breast and are benign. They are common in young women (under 25) they appear as oval, tender, slippery masses, but they can occur at any age and may not be able to be felt as lumps. Many women have more than one.

Diagnosis is usually by ultrasound, needle sampling and mammography (in older women). Treatment is not essential but they can be removed surgically.

Fibroadenomas are not related to breast cancer but do need to be accurately diagnosed. This can usually be done by needle sampling.

Nipple discharge

Most nipple discharges are completely harmless when green, brown, straw coloured, milky or black – particularly if the discharge comes from more than one duct and from both nipples. These discharges are due to the production of fluid by normal breast cells in response to hormones.

However, if the discharge is blood stained or completely watery it is important to see your doctor and be investigated as surgery may be required.

Hormonal thickening

This is the most common change in the breast and can occur at any age during the reproductive years. It is the response to hormones and is often related to pre-menopausal breast tenderness. It may occur anywhere in the breast but is most common in the upper outer region of the breast, and  may come and go.

Diagnosis is usually made with a combination of breast examination, mammography and ultrasound. No treatment is necessary unless breast pain or tenderness is troublesome.

Hormonal thickening is not related to the development of breast cancer. It usually disappears naturally after menopause.