Breast Diagnostic Tests

London Bridge Breast Centre

Breast cancer is the most common type of cancer in the UK and will affect around 1 in 8 women at sometime during their life.

The good news about breast cancer is that treatment is quite effective and that most women who develop breast cancer will be permanently cured following the correct treatment. Breast Cancer Treatment is more effective if the breast cancer is caught in the early stages and this is the reason for undergoing breast screening (mammography).

This is provided automatically by the National Health Service breast screening programme for all women between the ages of 47-73, but continues to be effective after the age of 73 and Breast Cancer Screening is available on request at your local screening centre if you wish to continue with it. Routine screening is not normally advised for women under the age of 40 unless there are significant risk factors. However, studies have shown that screening women from 40 onwards is beneficial and hence this service is offered at the London Breast Centre.

The most common sign of breast cancer is a lump in the breast. This can be any size but is usually felt as a separate lump within the breast tissue which is harder than the normal tissue around it. Breast cancer can also cause nipple discharge which is frequently blood stained. Breast cancer lumps are practically never painful and generally are felt by accident whilst washing or during self breast examination. Breast cancer can sometimes cause a red discoloration of the overlying skin so this is another important symptom which should always be checked by your doctor.

Ductal Carcinoma-in situ (DCIS)

Ductal Carcinoma-in situ is the name given to pre-cancerous changes in the breast. This is the stage before breast cancer and very different from breast cancer. Under the microscope abnormal cells similar to cancer cells can be seen within the breast ducts, but these cells do not have the ability to invade the surrounding tissue or to live outside the breast duct. As a consequence DCIS can never spread to the lymph glands or away from the breast and for this reason is not life threatening in itself. If left untreated however, DCIS will often, though not always, turn into breast cancer with potentially more serious consequences.

Ductal Carcinoma-in situ is most often discovered when you have a mammogram. In particular it produces fine specks of calcium which show up on a mammogram. A needle biopsy is usually required to confirm diagnosis. It is unusual to have any symptoms as DCIS does not cause any pain and only rarely leads to a lump or to nipple discharge.

Ductal Carcinoma-in situ is nearly always treated by surgery. It is essential to remove all of the affected tissue in a way that leaves no remaining cancer cells behind. Often this can involve the removal of only a small area of breast tissue but if the changes are very extensive a mastectomy can sometimes be required. In these cases breast reconstructive surgery can be safely carried out at the same time as the mastectomy.

Radiotherapy may be of benefit or recommended.

For further information and appointments please contact us on:
+44 (0) 20 7234 2009, info.lbh@hcahealthcare.co.uk