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A note on terms: 

Breast cancer can affect anybody, and everybody is welcome in CoppaFeel!’s community. We’re actively inclusive in our language and we ask people how they want to be described. 

The word ‘chest’ is inclusive of all bodies and genders. When we need to be clinically accurate we use the word ‘breast’. You might prefer to call your chest something else, and that’s ok!

What to do if you have found something unusual

Have you noticed an unusual change in your chest? There is no need to panic. Our bodies change, and if you have noticed a change, it’s a good sign that you know your body. 

There are lots of reasons why you might have changes to your chest. Most changes are natural and harmless. 9 out of 10 people who go to a breast clinic to get a change checked out do not have breast cancer. However, if you are worried about a change to your chest, make an appointment with your GP as soon as possible.

A note: GP stands for general practitioner. This is a doctor who gives general medical treatment and advice. A GP is usually the first medical professional you will be in contact with.

What to expect when you contact your GP

Your GP will probably want to examine your chest area. This might include under your armpits and up to your collarbone. It can be helpful to wear loose clothing or separate top and bottoms.

It can feel embarrassing to talk to your GP about your chest, but they have seen it all before. 

Here are our tips for your GP appointment:

  • If you would prefer a female GP, you can ask for this when you book the appointment. You can also ask to see a male GP if you prefer.
  • Ask a family member or a friend to be with you for support.
  • Write down any questions for your GP and take them with you to your appointment.
  • Write down when you first noticed the changes, and tell the GP.
  • If you have periods, write down when your last one was. The GP might ask.
  • Try to find out if anyone in your family has had breast cancer. The GP might ask you about that too.

Sara’s story

“Get to know your body. If you are ever in doubt – get it checked out! You are not wasting anybody’s time – this is your doctor’s job and they’re there to help.”

Sara contacted her doctor during lockdown after finding a lump when checking her boobs. She encourages anyone who notices a change to do the same.

Read Sara's Story

What it means if you’re referred to the breast clinic

Your GP might decide to send you to the breast clinic to have any changes checked out by a breast specialist. Your GP can ask for an urgent or non-urgent appointment at the breast clinic. They may ask for an urgent appointment to make sure you are seen quickly. It does not mean your GP thinks you have breast cancer.


From October 2023 in England, the Two Week Wait appointment process changed to the 28-day Faster Diagnosis Standard.

*More information will be added to this page soon.*

For more information visit the NHS page on faster diagnosis.

This Cancer Research UK article on breaking down NHS England’s changes in standards for cancer care helps break down the changes (Accessed on October 2023).

What To Expect At The Breast Clinic

If your GP decides to send you to the breast clinic, it is to have any changes checked out by a breast specialist. It does not mean you have breast cancer. It just means your GP would like some more tests to be sure what the changes mean. The breast clinic might suggest you bring a friend or family member with you for support. Give yourself several hours for your appointment. It might not take that long, but sometimes there are delays or further tests needed. You will be asked some questions about your medical history and family history. If you have periods, you might be asked about them. The specialist will want to examine your chest. You will have one or more of the following tests:

  • Mammogram: An X-ray of your chest
  • Ultrasound: A test which uses sound waves to create a picture of your chest area
  • Biopsy: A specialist takes a sample from the chest area to look at under a microscope. A biopsy may be taken depending on the results from the ultrasound

NHS teams are working hard to make sure everyone feels supported when they go to a breast clinic. For example, they are offering longer appointment times if a person needs more time. Tell the GP if you need extra support so they can let the specialists know. 

You might get your test results on the day, or you might have to wait for some results. For example, the ultrasound scans can be understood straight away, but the mammogram and biopsy results can take longer. It could take 2-6 weeks for you to get the results of some tests. The specialist at the breast clinic will explain which tests you need, and answer any questions.

Where to look for support

If you are diagnosed with breast cancer, someone at the clinic will tell you about your next appointments and where you can get support. You might be given the details of the Clinical Nurse Specialist who will be looking after you. Here is a list of our friends who offer support:

Our health information has the PIF TICK quality mark, so you can trust and rely on it.

CoppaFeel! doctor emoji

We updated this information in April 2024. We will look at it again in April 2027.

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