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Tests for breast cancer

It’s recommended that doctors use an approach known as the triple test to find the cause of a breast change. Many women with breast changes won’t need all of these tests.

The triple test

The triple test includes:

  • clinical breast examination and taking a personal history
  • imaging tests (mammogram, ultrasound and/or MRI)
  • a biopsy to remove cells or tissue for examination.

For more information about radiology tests visit the Royal Australian and NZ College of Radiology website.

Breast diagnostic services

Some women maybe referred to a breast diagnostic service to investigate a breast change.

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Most women show no signs of cancer on any of the tests. The small number of women who show possible signs of cancer on one or more of the tests may be advised to see a surgeon for further tests or treatment.

Follow-up tests

Regular follow-up testing is essential after treatment for early breast cancer.

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Tests if breast cancer has spread

Other tests, such as blood tests or chest X-rays will only be used if a woman has symptoms which suggest that breast cancer has spread to other parts of the body.

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Waiting for test results

Waiting for test results can be a worrying time. It’s important for women to ask as many questions as they need to. Talking to a health professional about fears and concerns can be helpful.

Questions to ask about breast cancer tests

View a list of questions to ask about breast cancer tests.