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Feature Article

Investigating breast symptoms: maximising the detection of breast cancer

Helen Zorbas

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Abstract

The challenge for the GP is to determine which symptoms are most likely to be due to breast cancer and to investigate them effectively. The ‘triple test’ – clinical examination, imaging, and fine needle aspiration or core biopsy – is the most effective means to maximise breast cancer detection.

Key Points

  • The vast majority of breast symptoms will not be due to a breast cancer.
  • The ‘triple test’ approach to diagnosis is the most effective means of maximising the detection of symptomatic breast cancer.
  • Any woman with a positive result from any one of the components of the triple test requires further investigation and/or surgical referral, irrespective of normal results of other tests.
  • All test results should be reviewed for consistency; when there is inconsistency, further investigation is required.

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