Frequently asked questions 

 

What age should I start breast screening?

We recommend starting routine annual screening at the age of 40.

Less than 1% of women who attend regular breast screening are found to have cancer.

 

How often should I have a mammogram?

We recommend having a mammogram every year. 

Please discuss this with your doctor and they will advise the best screening plan for you. 

 

What should I expect from my first mammogram?

Have a look at our Mammography information page.

 

Can I start breast screening under 40 years of age?

You can begin screening under 40 years of you are experiencing concerning symptoms and have a doctors referral. 

If you would like to begin routine screening early please discuss this with your doctor. 

 

Do I need a referral?

If you are under 40 years or experiencing any concerning symptoms we will require a referral.

Please see your doctor prior to making an appointment with us. Once you have received a referral send a copy to our administration team via abc@aucklandbreastcentre.co.nz

 

How do I see my results?

The doctor will discuss your screening with you during your appointment. You can also request to receive your results which will be published within 2 working days of your appointment.

 

Does my GP get my screening results?

Your GP will receive your results within 2 working days of your appointment.

 

How can I get a breast cancer screening?

In private, you can book into a clinic for a mammogram if you are over 40.
In public, If you are over 45 you can get two yearly screening mammograms for free: https://www.timetoscreen.nz/breast-screening/sign-up/

 

What is an ultrasound?

A breast ultrasound uses sound waves to make a picture of the tissues inside the breast. A breast ultrasound can show all areas of the breast, including the area closest to the chest wall, which is hard to study with a mammogram.

 

How long will the appointment take?

It is good to allow 30mins- 1 hour for the appointment.  Please note that acute patient appointments may take longer.

Unexpected delays can occur.  If there is a delay that affects your appointment time, our reception team will advise you as soon as possible so you can choose to make another booking if you are unable to wait.

 

What should I wear?

It’s a good idea to wear a skirt or trousers (rather than a dress) for comfort.

 

What happens during a mammogram?

Each breast will be compressed between two flat plates on the x-ray machine. Compression will only last up to 20 seconds.

 

Is a mammogram painful?

Some women experience discomfort, however, if you are experiencing pain during the mammogram please advise the radiographer. 

 

What is Tomosynthesis?

A Three-dimensional (3D) mammogram, also known as breast tomosynthesis, is a type of digital mammography in which x-ray machines are used to take many pictures of thin slices of the breast to produce a 3D image. This improves cancer detection and reduces the number of biopsies.

All patients have 3D Mammography at ABC.

 

Is a tomosynthesis different from a mammogram?

No, tomosythensis is a type of digital mammography. 

The 3D tomosynthesis takes images through the breast while the mammogram is taken, and the computer reconstructs this into 1mm slices through the breast.

Our specialist radiologist reads this in conjunction with the state of the art 2D digital images.

This improves cancer detection and reduces the number of unnecessary biopsies.

 

Why do I need a mammogram and an ultrasound?

A mammogram is our gold standard of breast screening and an ultrasound is additional screening to check dense breasts, and areas of interest demonstrated in the mammogram.

You will have an ultrasound after your mammogram if you have high breast density or are experiencing concerning symptoms. 

 

Can I have an ultrasound instead of a mammogram?

A breast ultrasound does not replace a mammogram but is used as additional screening to check dense breasts, and areas of interest demonstrated in the mammogram.

Mammography is the gold standard for screening for breast cancers. 

If you are over 40 an ultrasound will not be used as a standalone screening. 

 

Can I have a mammogram if I have implants?

Yes, please advise us if you have implants when making the appointment so we can allow extra time. 

 

If I have had screening elsewhere can you see my images?

If you have had previous screening in New Zealand, then we will be able to access your images for comparison.

 

How is breast density determined?

Your breast density if determined from Volpara software during your mammogram. If you have high density, then an additional ultrasound will be recommended.

Your breast density can change throughout your lifetime, usually reducing after menopause. 

 

Can I have a Mammogram if I am pregnant or breast feeding?

No, we will only perform an ultrasound.

You may have a mammogram 3 months after you finish breast feeding.

There are exceptions to this which we will explain to you if you require one. 

 

How much radiation is there in a Mammogram?

The dose of radiation used is very low and less than you would get in a year from natural radiation.

We use the latest mammography technology called tomosynthesis and we have installed does reduction software so that the total radiation is 30% less than with conventional mammography. 

 

How long will it take to get my biopsy results?

Biopsy results take up to 3-5 working days.

After your biopsy our reception team will make an appointment for you to see one of our breast specialists to discuss the results.

 

Can I have a mammogram through the public system and an ultrasound with ABC?

Yes, if you have a concern or high breast density. Your GP will need to refer you to ABC.

Your ultrasound will be booked approximately 3 weeks after your mammogram with the public system. 

 

Is this a walk in service?

No, please contact our administration team to make an appointment. 

You may also come into the clinic to make an appointment. 

 

Can I use this service if I don't have medical insurance?

Yes, you are able to pay privately. Please ask for a quotation when making your appointment. 

 

Can I bring a support person?

Yes, we have plenty of space in our waiting room for a support person to wait. 

 

Do I need to take all my clothes off for screening?

You will be asked to remove your shirt and bra. 

We will provide a robe to wear for the duration of your appointment and a carry bag for your clothes and belongings. 

 

Is ABC affiliated with Southern Cross?

Yes, we can apply for your prior approval. Please let us know your policy number when making your appointment.

If you are insured with another company you will have to apply for prior approval yourself. Please ask for a quote when making your appointment. We will also ask you to settle the bill after the appointment and we will provide the receipt for you to submit to your insurer.

 

When should I start screening if I have a strong family history of breast cancer?

Women who have a first degree relative (ie; their mother or a sister) who has had breast cancer should start having mammograms ten years in age before the age at which their relative was diagnosed.

 

What are the most common types of breast cancer?

Invasive ductal cancer, invasive lobular cancer and DCIS-Ductal carcinoma in situ are the most common types of breast cancer.

 

What questions should I ask the breast cancer specialist?

Breast Cancer Foundation NZ outlines a variety of questions to ask your specialist. 

 

How long after diagnosis should I receive breast cancer treatment?

Breast cancer is usually not an emergency so there is time for planning for your treatment. The guidelines say that the first treatment should take place before 60 days after your diagnosis but current access means that it will take place much sooner than that.

 

What are the symptoms of breast cancer?

Breast Cancer Foundation NZ outlines the real signs of breast cancer. 


What should I expect with a total mastectomy?

Have a look at our Mastectomy information page.

 

Will I lose my hair with breast cancer treatment?

Breast Cancer Foundation NZ offers further information regarding hair loss and wigs & headwear. 

 

What are the signs that breast cancer has spread?

Breast Cancer Foundation NZ outline advanced breast cancer and signs. 

 

How can I lower my chances of getting breast cancer?

Take a look at Breast Cancer Foundation NZ to see how to reduce your risk.

 

How to do a self breast exam?

Learn how to check your breasts via Breast Cancer Foundation NZ 

 

Can I get treatment for breast cancer if I don't have insurance?

Yes, absolutely. Your GP or specialist can refer you to the nearest public hospital.

 

 

If you have any further questions please do not hesitate to contact us via 09 488 9179 or abc@aucklandbreastcentre.co.nz