Breast Cancer Diagnosis

Breast Cancer Diagnosis

On your first visit, you will be examined by a breast specialist. If you have not already had one, a mammogram and ultrasound will be organised for you, an examination will be carried out and a full breast health history will be discussed.

If there is an area of concern a breast biopsy procedure will need to be performed. Under local anaesthetic, a needle removes small pieces of tissue from the area of concern. This tissue is examined by a pathologist at a laboratory elsewhere, and you will return later to discuss the results with your specialist. Receiving the results of these tests can be stressful so you are most welcome to bring a support person with you to this appointment.

Upon diagnosis, many women want to know everything about their treatment options. Your complete treatment plan cannot be finalised until after your surgery and further tests have been completed and analysed. Your case will then be discussed by our team of specialists at our regular multidisciplinary team meetings that consist of surgeons, radiologists; medical and radiation oncologists, breast physicians and breast care nurses.

An individually tailored treatment plan will then be discussed with you and your family, your questions answered and additional support will be arranged. You will be offered the opportunity to meet with our psychologist who can help you, your partner and your children with ways to cope with your breast cancer diagnosis and treatment.

Breast Cancer Treatment

Should you receive a positive diagnosis for breast cancer, your specialist will discuss the various options available for your treatment most relevant to your individual needs. You can be assured of receiving the best care and emotional support from our dedicated team.



Women are often advised to have radiotherapy after their initial surgery. This treatment uses ionising radiation to control and kill malignant cells that may remain, reducing the risk of cancer returning locally. Radiotherapy is a routine procedure after a partial mastectomy, and you may also be advised to have it after a mastectomy. This painless treatment takes only a few minutes and will be undertaken every weekday for three to five weeks.


Hormonal Manipulation (Breast Cancer Hormone Treatment)

The female hormones oestrogen and progesterone can encourage some cancer cells to grow. Hormonal manipulation blocks the effects of these hormones, not only reducing the risk of the cancer returning, but also the likelihood of cells forming in your other breast. There are various drugs avaliable in New Zealand which work together with your treatment plan and your breast specialist will discuss which is best for you.



Chemotherapy involves the administration of a combination of drugs that kill cancer cells either in tablet form or intravenously. In the case of breast cancer, chemotherapy is usually received after surgery to reduce the risk of cancer spreading or returning. In some instances, chemotherapy is received before surgery – generally to reduce the size of a large tumour so that the surgery is less invasive.

You may be advised by our specialists to receive chemotherapy if:

  • The lymph nodes removed contained cancer cells
  • You had a large breast cancer
  • Your breast cancer was fast-growing
  • Your breast cancer is one that will not respond to breast cancer hormone treatment.

Your treatment programme will require you to receive chemotherapy as an outpatient, with several weeks between each treatment, over a period of up to six months. You and your family will have access to counselling support during this time as side effects vary, sometimes causing temporary strain on relationships and routine daily living.



During the diagnostic phase of your breast cancer treatment, your cells will be tested for the receptor HER-2. Records show that 20-25 per cent of cancers test HER-2 positive, allowing these patients to receive Herceptin, a biological cancer treatment that blocks the rapid cell multiplication associated with this receptor. It has proven also to increase the positive effects of chemotherapy.

If your specialist recommends Herceptin, you will receive it intravenously every three weeks, usually for 12 months.

Breast Cancer Links

The team at Breast Associates will provide as much care, advice and information as possible, and will be helpful in answering any of your questions. It may also be useful to seek additional support from other sources, including books, articles, websites, and support groups, some of which can be found via these links below:


Breast Associates | Ascot Central, 7 Ellerslie Racecourse Drive, Greenlane, Auckland, New Zealand.

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