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Frequently Asked Questions

Am I at risk?


If you have a family history or personal history of breast cancer or any other conditions that potentially increase your risk for developing breast cancer, your GP may refer you to our clinic for a Risk Assessment.

You may have an increased risk of breast cancer if you have:

  • a personal history of DCIS or invasive breast cancer
  • a ‘significant’ family history, which is defined as Category 2/3 according to NBOCC guidelines

  • an Ashkenazi Jewish background

  • a history of previous tissue (histological) biopsy showing atypical ductal hyperplasia (ADH), lobular carcinoma in situ (LCIS), atypical lobular hyperplasia (ALH) or papillomatosis

  • a known genetic mutation, such as BRCA1 or BRCA2

  • dense breast tissue on mammography

  • used HRT long term ( for example >5-10 years)

If any of the above applies to you, you will need a screening program tailored to your individual needs. This may involve clinical breast examination combined with mammography / tomosynthesis / MRI on a more frequent basis – usually annually – and often combined with breast ultrasound. In young women, ultrasound alone may be indicated. Referral to the Adelaide familial cancer centre  may be required if you meet the criteria for genetic testing.

Family history risk assessment tool

Breast cancer risk assessment tool 

Your doctor has referred you for a breast issue, now what?


Your doctor may ring us to make the appointment for you, or you may call us.  Your doctor will give you a referral letter which you will need to bring with you or you can ask your doctor to fax to us or he/she may elect to complete our online referral and submit to us.  This will save you remembering to bring the referral to the appointment.

For further information regarding your appointment please see our information sheet in the - New Patients tab - please complete the forms applicable online and submit. This will save you filling out forms when you arrive.  A sms reminder will be sent to you prior to your appointment if you wish.

Your patient records are electronic so the specialist has access to your referral and all the information you have submitted/given to us.  

During your appointment  the doctor will discuss the reason for the referral and ascertain whether further testing is required, this could mean a mammogram/tomosynthesis, ultrasound or biopsy . We are fortunate to be co-located with Jones and Partners Imed Medical Imaging in the same building, which means you can have radiology on the day of consultation and in the majority of cases, receive your results.  

When the films have been assessed by the specialist radiologist the results will be given to your specialist.  Your specialist will advise of the result and decide whether surgical intervention is required or further monitoring or discharge

What breast changes your doctor should review.

A lump

Lumpiness/any change in the shape of the breast or dimpling of the skin. Any area that feels different to the rest. Discharge from the nipple. Pulling in of the nipple (known as the nipple inversion or retraction). Persistent breast pain.

What is breast density and what does it mean for me?

Breast Density is the strongest indicator for assessing a woman's risk of developing breast cancer, even more than family history.

Breast density is detected on a mammogram; it does not necessarily have anything to do with 'lumpy', 'stiff' or 'tender' breasts.

There are two types of breast tissue

  1. Active (glandular fibrous)
  2. Inactive (fat)

Ideally by the time a woman enters her peri-menopausal years, her breast tissue will be almost completely 'fat replaced'.  That means that most of the breast tissue will be inactive; and when this is the case, she has a low risk of developing breast cancer.

Unfortunately, many women have active or dense breast tissue.  According to the American Cancer Society 43% of the women in the US, aged between 40-65, have dense breast tissue.  Although an analysis has not been done for Australian women, we do know that it should be about the same statistic for women living in any industrialised nation. The American Cancer Society states that dense breast tissue is a normal phenomenon, just like high blood pressure is associated with cardiovascular (heart) disease.  Although many people have high blood pressure, it is not a 'normal' state.  Just like there are many factors that contribute to dense breast tissue.

For example we know that the combination of an elevated oestrogen to lowered testosterone ratio will cause breast tissue to become dense.  The cause of elevated oestrogen to lowered testosterone ratio, and consequent breast density, is linked to a variety of things; including the birth control pill, toxins in the environment, combination HRT, and genetics.


low-high density

Your doctor has referred you for an endocrine problem, now what?

Your doctor may make the appointment for you or you may call us.  Your doctor will give you a referral letter which you will need to bring with you, or you can ask your doctor to fax to us or he/she may elect to complete our online referral and submit.  This will save you remembering to bring your referral to the appointment.

For further information regarding your appointment please see our information sheet in the - New Patients tab - please complete the forms applicable to you online and submit. This will save you filing out forms when you arrive.  A sms reminder will be sent to you prior to your appointment if you wish.

Your patient records are electronic so doctor has access to your referral and all the information you have submitted/given to us.  

Further testing maybe required, this could mean a ultrasound, parathyroid sestamibi scan or thyroid fine needle biopsy.

 We are fortunate to be co-located with Jones and Partners Imed Medical Imaging in the same building, which means you can have some of your radiology on the day of consultation and in the majority of cases, receive your results. Some imaging requires a nuclear medicine facility so you will have these scans elsewhere. After the doctor has seen you and decided he/she wants you to have imaging you will be taken to another waiting area to wait for your imaging to be done.

 When the films have been assessed by the specialist radiologist  results will be given to your specialist.  Your specialist will advise you of the result and decide whether you will need surgical intervention, further monitoring or discharge.

How do I make an appointment?

Please call our rooms on 08 8331 3662 or 8331 3322 or you can email info@breastclinic.com.au and we will be happy to call you and arrange an appointment.

What do I need to bring?

Please bring your referral if you are a new patient or if you are a current patient please ensure your referral is still current. (valid for 12 months from your doctor or 3 months from a specialist)

If you have had imaging relevant to your consultation please bring, along with your medicare and private health fund cards. 

 If you are having a mammogram please bring the last 2 years of films and wear 2 piece clothing and no deodorant.  

Support person - we encourage you to bring someone in with you and they too can sit in on your consultation if you wish.

 Patience- Appointment times can be unpredictable despite our best efforts.  We have a variety of up to date magazines and free WiFi is available to make your wait a bit more bearable.

Is there parking available?

Limited parking in Hewitt Avenue and Giles Street is available although 2 hour parking restrictions do apply.  There is parking further away without time limits if you are anticipating a long appointment.  A disabled parking space is available in the front of the centre. A ramp into Jones and Partners is available if you have a frame or wheelchair.  The staff will guide you into the Breast and Endocrine Centre.

Can I take public transport?

Bus 142 and 143 to and from the city stop at bus stops located outside Burnside War Memorial Hospital.  The centre is located at the rear end of the hospital grounds.

How long should I allow for an appointment?

If you are a new patient please allow at least two hours for your first appointment. This will allow time should you require further testing, such as mammography, ultrasound or a biopsy. Once this has been reported your doctor will advise you of the result and if further action is warranted. If your appointment is for a review only and no further testing is required then allow around 30 minutes.  Mammogram patients should allocate around an hour so that there is time for the radiologist to review your images and give your specialist the results.

Please ask the receptionist if doctor is running on time, unfortunately due to the nature of our business waiting is sometimes unavoidable.  You can always visit Cafe Otto co-located in Burnside Hospital for a coffee and our receptionist will be happy to call you when doctor is ready for you if you would rather not wait in our waiting area.    

We do allocate sufficient time for your appointment but sometimes unforeseen circumstances do occur in the consult, and as our specialists give individualised patient care these consults may take longer than anticipated.  We do thank you for your patience and understanding during these times.  

We have a policy that all newly diagnosed confirmed breast cancers are seen by one of our specialists within 24-48 hours, hence we may fit these patients into the schedule at the last minute.  We understand your time is precious and we will do our best to minimise your wait.

Please enjoy our new spacious waiting room with up to date magazines and free guest Wi Fi, password available from reception.

Will I get my results on the same day?

Generally yes.  

If you are having a mammogram or ultrasound your results will be given to you by your specialist or the breast clinician on the day.  

If further testing is required, for example, a fine needle biopsy, you may get that result the same day. If you require a Vacuum Assisted Core biopsy, your doctor will advise you when to call for the results which is usually within 24 hours.

If you are having a MRI those results are usually available in 24 - 48 hours.

We understand the anxiety that comes from waiting for results so we will call you if the results come in earlier than anticipated.

Do you bulk bill?

We are a private practice so we don't bulk bill.  Full payment is required after your consultation.  We are able to pay your medicare rebate directly into your savings or cheque account within a few seconds after payment is made.  We do offer reduced fees for concession card holders.  If you have a question regarding our fees please contact our Practice Manager.

I do not have private health, can I still attend your centre?

Of course.  You don't need private health cover to see our specialists.  Medicare will pay you a rebate for your consultation.  If you require surgery and elect to self fund we are more than happy to supply you with a quote beforehand.  Alternatively, we can book you into one of the public hospitals our specialists operate from.  We ensure you are financially well informed before your surgery is arranged.

Why do I need a referral to see the surgeon?

Medicare require you to supply a current referral from either your current doctor or specialist.  Your specialist will correspond with the referring doctor. Without a current referral medicare will not pay you a rebate.  Referrals from your doctor are valid for 12 months from your visit and from a specialist 3 months.  However, if you are able to obtain an "indefinite" referral from your doctor, there will be no need to obtain a new one every 12 months.

At what hospitals do the surgeons operate?

Dr Clive Hoffmann operates almost exclusively at Burnside War Memorial Hospital, with monthly lists at Ashford Hospital, St Andrews Hospital and Flinders Private Hospital for privately insured or self funded patients (a quote can be arranged) and Flinders Medical Centre for public patients.  

Dr Stephen Birrell operates at Burnside War Memorial Hospital for privately insured or self funded patients (a quote can be arranged). 

Dr Peter Shin operates at Burnside War Memorial Hospital for privately insured or self funded patients (a quote can be arranged) and Flinders Medical Centre for public patients.  

Dr Subhita Prasannan operates at Burnside War Memorial Hospital for privately insured or self funded patients (a quote can be arranged) and Lyell McEwin Hospital for public patients.

What is a breast clinician, and why am I seeing her instead of my surgeon?

To better manage the number of review patients and reduce your waiting time, you may be seen by the breast clinician. You will remain under the care of your breast specialist who will always see you if  a new problem arises. The breast clinician works alongside your specialist to provide you the best on-going care.