In the UK, about 1 in 8 women are diagnosed with breast cancer during their lifetime. Men can also get breast cancer in rare cases. Treatment for breast cancer has continued to develop and improve. However, being breast aware and seeking medical review if there are any concerns remains so important.
It is vital to check your breasts regularly and tell a doctor about any changes or symptoms, such as a lump. If you come to The Holly Private Hospital, you can make an appointment for our One-Stop Breast Clinic.
Miss Tasha Gandamihardja, Consultant Oncoplastic Breast Surgeon, answers your frequently asked questions about this clinic.
What is the One-Stop Breast Clinic?
We have set up the One-Stop Breast Clinic at The Holly for people who are worried about any breast symptoms. In a single visit to our hospital, you have all the tests needed for us to diagnose your symptoms accurately.
You can see a consultant breast surgeon, have any scans that you need and get the results on the same day. Sometimes you may have a biopsy, where we take a small sample of breast tissue to check under a microscope. In that case, you return in one week to get the results when they have been analysed.
Who should book an appointment at the One-Stop Breast Clinic?
It is important to see a doctor without delay if there are any changes in your breasts. Most changes are not a sign of cancer, but it is always best for a doctor to examine you.
You should consider booking an appointment at the One-Stop Breast Clinic if you notice:
- a lump, thickening or swelling in your breast or armpit
- a change in the size, shape or feel of one or both breasts
- a change in the position of the nipple, such as turning inwards
- fluid, which may be bloodstained, leaking from either nipple
- constant pain in your breast, nipple or armpit
- skin changes in your breast, such as dimpling like the skin of an orange, a rash or redness
Which healthcare professionals work in the One-Stop Breast Clinic?
Our team at the One-Stop Breast Clinic is made up of:
- a consultant breast surgeon
- a consultant breast radiologist who performs and interprets scans
- a breast care nurse
What happens during my appointment at the One-Stop Breast Clinic?
When you arrive in the clinic area, our receptionist greets you and asks for your details. This includes details of your GP and any private medical insurance.
We then call you into the clinic room. You meet the consultant breast surgeon while the breast care nurse is present. You can tell the surgeon about your symptoms and concerns. The surgeon asks about any other medical conditions that you may have and any medicines that you take. They also check whether you have a family history of breast cancer.
After you have explained your medical history, your breasts are examined. We ask you to undress to your waist in a private changing area and remove your bra. The breast care nurse should be present as a chaperone (someone to accompany you for support) during your examination. If the nurse is not there and you would like to have a chaperone, please let us know.
The surgeon examines both of your breasts and armpits and arranges any scans that you may need. This could be an ultrasound, a mammogram (an X-ray picture of each breast) or both. We perform the scans with the latest imaging equipment in our Diagnostic Centre. This is just around the corner from the clinic room.
If there is a lump in my breast or the scans show any abnormal areas, what tests will I have?
If there is a lump in your breast or we find any abnormal areas on your scans, we arrange a biopsy. This is when we take a small sample of the breast tissue and send it to a laboratory for analysis. You have a local anaesthetic to make the area numb and should not feel any pain.
Unless you need a specific biopsy called a stereotactic core biopsy, all biopsies are done at the time of your scans.
When will I find out my test results?
At The Holly, we aim to make a quick, accurate diagnosis and reduce the anxiety of waiting for results. Wherever possible, we explain your results to you during the same appointment. If you have a biopsy, we need to wait for the laboratory to check your sample of breast tissue. You should find out your test results in one week.
Most people are reassured that their symptoms are non-cancerous (benign).
If my test results are not normal, what treatment and support can you offer me?
If your test results are not normal, The Holly can offer you prompt treatment and support. Our doctors can give you complete care if you are diagnosed with breast cancer. You also have a dedicated breast care nurse, who is your point of contact and supports you throughout your treatment.
You can have cancer surgery and chemotherapy at The Holly. If you need radiotherapy, however, this is carried out at a different hospital.
What is the role of an oncoplastic breast surgeon?
Oncoplastic surgeons such as myself are breast surgeons, who have also been trained in the principles and techniques of plastic surgery. When you have surgery to remove a cancer, an oncoplastic surgeon can ensure that the appearance of the breast is maintained as much as possible. The surgeon aims to keep the shape of the breast and considers the placement of the scar.
If you have a mastectomy (an operation to remove a breast), an oncoplastic surgeon like me can offer you breast reconstruction. This is a procedure to make a replacement breast shape. I can perform breast reconstruction at the same time as a mastectomy (immediate reconstruction) or at a later date (delayed reconstruction). The timing depends on what you prefer and what is most suitable for you.
To make the new breast shape, I either insert a breast implant or use tissue from another part of your body. If you want to have breast reconstruction using body tissue, I perform the procedure jointly with plastic surgeons.
What are the advantages of coming to the One-Stop Breast Clinic?
At the One-Stop Breast Clinic, you see a consultant breast surgeon and consultant radiologist in the same visit. Your breasts are examined and you have any scans and biopsies that you need on the same day. If you do not need biopsies, and your examination and scans are normal, you leave the clinic reassured that your symptoms and concerns were fully investigated.
The One-Stop Breast Clinic is different from a traditional clinic where you may have to visit several times. Usually, you would make one visit to see the breast surgeon, another visit to have scans and a potential third visit to get the results.
If you come to our One-Stop Breast Clinic, you do not need to make repeated visits to the hospital. This is more convenient for you and saves time. It also reduces the anxiety of waiting for scans and results.
About Miss Tasha Gandamihardja
Miss Tasha Gandamihardja is a Consultant Oncoplastic Breast Surgeon, who works in both the private sector and the NHS. You can visit her website at: mybreastmyhealth.com
To make an appointment with Miss Gandamihardja at The Holly Private Hospital, please call 020 3504 8481 or complete this form.