FAQ

Do I need a doctors' referral to come for an appointment?
No. You can be referred by your GP or simply phone us to arrange your own appointment. We will arrange a time for the mammogram if necessary
How are breast cysts treated?
If the cyst has caused a lump or pain it can be drained with a thin needle under local anaesthetic in the consulting room. The process only takes a few minutes and is usually quite painless. Ultrasound guidance allows accurate placement of the needle and we can see that the cyst collapses completely. After aspiration there should be no lump left to feel. A mammogram may be done to confirm that there are no other changes in the breast tissue such as calcification that may not show up on the ultrasound. Benign cysts do not require surgical removal.
How long will the consultation take?
The consultation including mammogram and needle biopsy if required will take about one to one and a half hours. You are welcome to bring along a friend or family member to the consultation. Please bring any previous mammograms or relevant medical information . Wear comfortable clothing with a separate top that is easy to remove for examination. Do not wear any talcum powder as this can show up on the mammogram.
Please tell me about free breast screening.
Free breast screening for women aged 45 to 69 years is provided by the national breast screening programme, BreastScreen Aotearoa.

The aim of breast screening is to find very small cancers before a lump can be found on the breast. Early treatment has the best chance of success.

You can make an appointment by ringing 0800 270 200.
What causes breast cysts?
They appear to be part of the normal changes that occur in the breast tissue during your forties and fifties. The ducts that make up the breast start to fragment and areas of ductal tissue become isolated. The small quantities of fluid that are normally produced by the lining of the duct then build up to form a cyst.
What causes calcification to show on my mammogram?
A small amount of calcium is normally dissolved and carried in the blood. Changes in living tissue can cause calcium to move out of the circulating blood and to settle in these abnormal areas. Causes include aging, injury and inflammation. Another important cause is cancer. These calcifications show up as white spots on the mammogram. The radiologist will try to classify them as benign, indeterminate (uncertain origin) or obviously malignant by their appearance on the x-ray. Any indeterminate or malignant calcifications will require a biopsy. Some of these areas will turn out to be benign but some will be due to cancer. Calcification does not cause cancer to form in this area. In fact it is a fortunate circumstance that the calcium is attracted to these areas as it can draw our attention to a cancer change at an early stage. The down side is that many benign (non-cancer) changes will need to have a biopsy as well to identify the few dangerous ones.
Why do I need a mammogram and an ultrasound?
A mammogram uses x-rays to create an image of the breast whilst the ultrasound is based on sound waves. These procedures give us different views of the breast tissue. Some changes such as calcification and architectural distortion of the tissue are only seen on the mammogram, however we know that mammograms can miss 10 – 20% of breast cancer changes. Using both technologies minimises the chance of missing an abnormality.
 
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Meet the Surgeon

Trevor Smith MBChB FCS

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