Coming to any hospital appointment can often be a worrying prospect, especially with a breast symptom, and you are welcome to bring a family member, spouse, partner or friend with you. The outpatient clinic area is quiet and discrete with no signs to indicate the nature of the consultation taking place. I will see all patients with a breast care nurse present.
We will discuss your symptom or symptoms, and I will take a full medical history including any other medical conditions or treatments and any family history of breast cancer. With your permission I will carry out a breast examination with a chaperone present, normally the breast care nurse.
Following this, we will be able to discuss the possible causes of the symptom you have presented with, such as breast pain or a breast lump. It is common to discuss and recommend diagnostic investigations following this such as mammograms or an ultrasound scan of the breast, and sometimes a local anaesthetic biopsy to confirm the nature of any changes identified during the examination. We can often arrange these for you before you leave the consultation, and my secretary will be able to contact you to arrange any follow-up appointment if this is necessary.
I will then write to your GP and any other referring doctor summarising your consultation and the planned investigations, and will normally send you a copy letter to you too. Letters are also sent after all subsequent consultations or when the results of investigations become available.
If your investigations have been reassuring, and in keeping with the clinical impression of your clinic visit then a routine follow-up appointment may not be necessary. Thankfully, this is the case for many patients with breast symptoms, although you would be welcome to attend another appointment if you have any further questions or wish to discuss the results further.
Sometimes, we may need to meet again to discuss the results of the investigations carried out, such as a scan result or a tissue biopsy. This will be to allow us to discuss if any further tests may be necessary, or potentially to discuss treatment options if a breast cancer has been diagnosed. It is important to me that you have the opportunity to ask questions which are important to you and for us to discuss the advantages and disadvantages of any treatment proposed.
If we decide to proceed to surgery, we will discuss this ensuring that all of your questions are answered beforehand. You will always know exactly what operation you will be undergoing before admission to hospital, and I will not undertake any treatment without your consent.
Having been diagnosed with breast cancer, sometimes a patient finds the prospect of choosing her treatment during that consultation overwhelming and maybe impossible. This is not uncommon, and a further appointment can always be made to allow her time to think about her options outside the clinic.