26 Oct, 2023

After your breast screening

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After your breast screening

After your breast screening it’s natural to start thinking about what the mammogram may show. We know waiting for results can be stressful, but just remember that most results are clear. Results are usually ready within three weeks. If you haven’t heard anything within 3 weeks, please call BreastScreen Aotearoa on 0800 270 200. Both you and your GP will get copies of your results (unless you’ve asked for your doctor not to receive them). In this resource, we’ll look at what happens after you get your results. You’re not alone on this journey, so please let us know if you have any questions at any stage of your breast screening journey.

Getting your results

If your mammogram doesn’t show anything unusual, you’ll get the all-clear. You’ll then get an invite in 2 years for your next mammogram. If your mammogram does show something out of the ordinary, you will need to get a second assessment.

Only around 1 in 10 women will need to come back for a further assessment after a first mammogram.

In most cases, you won’t have breast cancer, but a radiologist (a doctor who specialises in reading mammograms) will take a closer look.

Only 2 out of 10 women who attend assessment appointments will have cancer.

At the second assessment

Assessment tests are free. The assessment could take as little as an hour but it may take all day, so plan to be at the appointment all day. We know it’s a scary experience, so our Breast Screen coordinator can be right there with you during your assessment appointment At the assessment clinic you will have further tests to find out what your mammogram showed. This can include:

  • more pictures of the breast using the mammogram machine
  • an ultrasound scan of the breast(s)
  • a physical examination by a doctor

To help with a diagnosis, you may also need a biopsy. A biopsy is a simple medical procedure where they take a small sample of body tissue and examine it under a microscope. They may do the biopsy at your assessment or, if needed, at a later appointment. Once your biopsy results are ready, you’ll have an appointment to see a surgeon.

Remember, most women who come back for an assessment do not have breast cancer. 

If you don’t need a biopsy, the assessment team will let you know when you can expect your results. They may even be available on the day of your assessment. You and your GP will also receive a letter with the results. If they do find breast cancer after your assessment and/or biopsy, BreastScreen Aotearoa will help you choose a specialist, who will give advice and treatment.  

What happens if you do need treatment?

Getting a breast cancer diagnosis can be a shock for you and your whānau, and leave you feeling scared and unsure of the future. Our dedicated Breast Screen coordinators can help you understand your results and what happens next. We are here to walk this journey with you. You are not alone. The first treatment step for breast cancer is usually surgery to remove the cancerous tissue. You may also need radiation therapy, hormone treatment, chemotherapy or a combination of these.  Your breast cancer specialists will support and guide you through your care and treatment plan.   For more information about the treatment for breast cancer go to the NZ Breast Cancer Foundation’s website.

How we can help

Our Breast Screen coordinators are trained to provide you with support at every step of this journey by:

  • helping schedule your appointment
  • going with you to your appointment for support
  • driving you to and from your appointment if needed
  • helping with interpretation and translation
  • filling out forms and keeping track of appointments
  • supporting you through your results and (if needed) treatment

If you would like to talk to our Breast Screen Coordinator about your next (or first) mammogram call Salome on 021 0266 8485 or email breastscreening@thefono.org

I love my role because it makes me feel fulfilled and satisfied at the end of the day; it gives me the ability to help, support our Pasifika Women and make a positive impact. My role allows me to work in a field that I am passionate about.

Salome Toiaivao, Breast and Bowel Screening Coordinator

Read more about breast screening in our resources