Beaumont Hospital

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Breast Imaging Unit - FAQ's

What is a mammogram and why do I need it?  

A mammogram is a non-invasive special type of low dose x-ray of the breast used to create detailed images of the breast. Mammography plays a major role in the early detection of breast cancer, increasing the chances of successful treatment and survival. You will be asked to undress to the waist. The radiographer will ask you some questions and then position your breast on a plastic plate. By lowering a second plate compression is applied. This may feel a little uncomfortable but is generally not painful. Two images are taken of each breast (patients with implants will probably need four images of each breast). All our mammography radiographers are female.

*Please note: For their own safety, children are not permitted in the scanning rooms. 

What is an ultrasound?

Ultrasound is an imaging exam that uses soundwaves to produce detailed images of the breast. You will be asked to undress to the waist. The radiologist will ask you about your breast problem and answer any questions you may have at that time. She will then spread some gel on your skin and press a small hand held sensor firmly against your breast to obtain images. Breast ultrasounds are painless, fast and easy.

I’ve been called back for additional imaging. What does this mean

The radiologist has looked at your mammogram and feels you need further tests. This happens quite often and does not necessarily mean there is something suspicious.

There are a number of other reasons you can be called back.

  • Overlapping tissue or skin fold.
  • Movement/motion on the x-ray.
  • Cyst, benign mass or calcifications.
  • An area that looks different to other parts of the breast.

What is a biopsy?

A biopsy is used to take a sample of tissue from a lump or area within the breast. It is used to help determine whether this lump or area is benign or malignant. It is not necessarily an indication you have cancer. If a biopsy is required, this will be explained fully by the radiologist before she starts.

What is an aspiration?

An aspiration is used to drain fluid from a cyst. Again if this is required, it will be explained fully by the radiologist before she starts.

I’ve had my exam(s), how do I get my results?

Once you’ve had your mammogram it will be read by a radiologist and compared to previous imaging where necessary. The results will be sent to your referring doctor that requested the x-ray.

If you have additional imaging and/or an ultrasound you will be given a verbal report by the radiologist and the official report will be sent to your referring doctor.

Please make an appointment with either the Breast Clinic or your GP depending on which sent you to our unit. If you attend from the Breast Clinic and would like your results copied to your GP, please ask the doctor when they are ordering your exams. These results will be available from the relevant doctor in 10 working days.

I feel something wrong/found a lump in my breast, what should I do?

Make an appointment with your GP at your earliest convenience. Your GP should then refer you to the breast clinic by either e-referral or letter. Once a referral has been received by the breast clinic, it will be triaged by a breast care nurse into an appropriate clinic. You will be contacted with an appointment. This will either be by text, phone or letter. All appointments are booked within the national guideline timeframe.

Breast Clinic contact numbers: (01) 8093093, (01) 7974783, (01) 7974724.

(Click here to be redirected to the Breast Clinic page

Do I need a referral for a screening mammogram?

A screening mammogram is performed for patients with no signs or symptoms of disease, and patients with benign disease, breast pain or family history of breast cancer. Yes, you will need a referral from either your GP or a consultant in Beaumont Hospital.

When you receive your appointment, if there is any chance you could be pregnant or are breastfeeding we ask that you inform us at your earliest convenience.

Do I still need a referral if I have a family history of breast cancer?

Yes, you should ask your GP to refer you to the Family Risk Breast Clinic for formal assessment. You will be seen by a clinician and thorough medical history taken. Using national guidelines your risk level will be assessed and discussed with you, a letter will also be given to each patient advising them of the best way to obtain any screening, if necessary, going forward.

Do I need a referral if I’ve previously had breast cancer?

No. If you have been diagnosed in Beaumont Hospital, you will be added to our annual cancer database and will be called for your mammogram every 12 months. It is advisable to stay with the same institution you were diagnosed by.

How long does it take?

  • For routine/screening appointments you should be finished within 45 minutes.
  • For assessment patients you should allow up to 3 hours.
  • For TAC patients you should allow between 2-5 hours.

What if my appointment doesn’t suit me?

If your appointment date or time doesn’t suit you, please contact the number on the letter with your MRN number (this is located in the top right corner of your letter) as soon as possible and the administration staff will try to accommodate you as best as possible.

How should I prepare for my visit?

You do NOT need to fast, please eat and drink if you want. We ask that you do not apply talcum powder, cream or deodorant on the day of your appointment as this interferes with the accuracy of the study. You will be asked to fill out a short questionnaire so if you use reading glasses please bring them with you. Depending on the clinic you are booked into you may be in the hospital for a while, something to pass the time is advisable. If you are diabetic please bring snacks/insulin for the above reason.

As you may be waiting awhile we recommend that you don’t bring children with you, if this is unavoidable please bring someone to mind them while you are being imaged.

What facilities are in the hospital?

In Beaumont Hospital there is a bank, coffee shop, newsagents and chapel.