Breast Screening and Assessment Unit

You have been given an appointment to attend an Assessment Clinic in the Breast Screening Unit at Queen Elizabeth Hospital Gateshead.

This is the second stage of the breast screening process. Your screening mammograms have shown some changes in your breast which need to be investigated further. The majority of changes are benign and present no health risk to the patient, but it is important that we find out exactly what this is in your case.  Benign means non cancerous.

Facts to be aware of:

Around 6% of women who have breast screening will be called for further tests.

Most women will have normal breasts or benign conditions.

Being called back to an assessment clinic does not mean you have a greater risk of developing breast cancer.

Most breast cancers found at screening are at a very early stage and can be treated very successfully.

Most can be removed without removing the whole breast.

Your Appointment

You should arrive at the Breast Screening department at your appointment time, there is no need to be early and you will not need any special preparation before attending, however please be aware that there is a charge for parking in the hospital grounds and spaces are limited during busy periods.

Your appointment can last between 1 and 4 hours depending on the further investigation that may be required.

The breast unit is accessible for disabled people but please let us know if you have any special requirements. If you require an interpreter please contact the department and inform us which language you require.

On arrival in the department the receptionist will check your details and show you to the waiting area where there will be other ladies who are attending the assessment clinic.  Some of the ladies will require further mammograms, do not be concerned if this is not the case for you as it depends on the particular changes found in your breast.

All ladies will see a Consultant Radiologist who is a doctor who specialises in x rays.

The doctor will ask you some questions and examine your breast and discuss with you if any further tests are advised. Most of the further tests can be done on the day. The staff will explain the tests to you before you are asked to give your consent.

Further tests may include:


This is similar to the test used for pregnant women. It is painless and will give the doctor a different type of picture of your breasts.

Wide Core Needle biopsy (WCNB)

The doctor uses a larger needle to take samples of breast tissue. You will be given an injection of local anaesthetic which will numb the area.  The results of this test take up to 10 days and you will be given an appointment to return to the Breast Screening Unit where the doctor will explain the results to you.

This test can be done using x rays or ultrasound to guide the needle into the correct area of your breast, the doctor will discuss this with you to decide which method is best for you.

Vacuum Assisted Core Biopsy

This test takes a larger piece of breast tissue using a special needle and suction device. This test is usually carried out used x-rays to guide the needle.  Depending on the area of the breast the sample is to be taken from you may be lying on a couch or sitting up, the staff will explain exactly what to do.  You will be given an injection of local anaesthetic to numb the area and several samples of breast tissue will be taken. The results of this test take up to 10 days and you will be given an appointment to return to the Breast Screening Unit where the doctor will explain the results to you.

You must let staff know if you are taking a blood thinning medication such as warfarin or clopidigrel or if you are taking daily aspirin.  In these circumstances you will be advised by the doctor of the correct preparation before you have any tests carried out.

If you require any further tests or treatment following this visit these will be explained and fully discussed with you before you leave the department, and a further appointment will be arranged for you.

We will write to your GP informing them of the outcome of your appointment, we will also send a referral letter to a breast specialist if this is required. If you would like to receive a copy of these letters, please let the staff know before you leave the department.

During the Assessment Clinic there is always a Breast Care Nurse available for you to speak to if you need any help or advice. Please let the staff know if you would like to see the nurse.

If there is anything you do not understand or if you would like to speak to a Breast Care Nurse before your appointment, please telephone the Breast Unit on:  0191 445 3722

If you need to change your appointment, please contact the department on:  0191 445 6214

If you would like to give us any feedback on this appointment, please contact the Superintendent Radiographer on:  0191 445 3775