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Investigating a Change

This page outlines the steps to take when investigating a breast health concern.

What To Do

The first step in investigating a breast health concern, identified through a screening mammogram, clinical breast examination, or breast self-examination, is to see your family doctor or a doctor at a walk-in clinic.

If you've had an abnormal screening mammogram, and your doctor is participating in the Screening Mammography Program of BC (SMPBC) "Fast Track" Facilitated Work-up" program, you may be contacted directly by a diagnostic breast imaging facility and asked to come in for further tests.

The doctor will complete a breast health and family history and a physical examination. Then, the doctor will determine whether any further tests are needed. If so, they may be done in the office (e.g. fine needle aspiration of a cyst) or booked through a diagnostic breast imaging service.

Learn about common breast conditions that are not cancerous.

Accessing Services

Diagnostic breast imaging services are provided by teams of radiologists, pathologists and breast imaging technologists in various locations across Vancouver Island.

A doctor’s referral is required for diagnostic breast imaging services. Your doctor will make an appointment for you by faxing a “Breast Imaging Requisition" to a diagnostic facility. Either your doctor's office or the booking clerk from the facility will phone you with an appointment, usually within one week of receiving the referral. If you are being booked for a routine diagnostic mammogram (e.g. previous diagnosis of breast cancer or breast implants), it may take longer to hear about your appointment date.

The facility will phone you a few days before your scheduled appointment to remind you of your appointment date and time.

Breast Imaging Procedures

The procedure(s) your doctor orders will depend on your clinical breast exam, your symptoms, your age and the last time you had a mammogram. Once you arrive at the diagnostic facility, the radiologist may recommend other tests if he/she feels they would be beneficial.

Find out what procedures are offered through VI Breast Imaging Services (PDF).

For a description of the types of diagnostic breast imaging procedures that are available, please click on the following links:

Preparing For Your Visit

Please arrive 15 minutes prior to your scheduled appointment time. Once you arrive in the Breast Imaging area, you will be greeted and taken to a change room where you may be asked to undress from the waist up and to change into a gown. Please do not wear any deodorant, talcum powder or perfume the day of your appointment as this can interfere with the accuracy of some of the tests.

After your procedure(s) are complete, you will be given instructions by the Radiologist or Breast Imaging Technologist regarding follow-up care or further appointments.

Core Biopsy Discharge Instructions (PDF)

Written results of your tests will be forwarded to your referring doctor. If you do not hear from this doctor within 7-10 days of your exam, please contact him/her to make an appointment to learn your results.