Specialist Breast Centres


Thanks to Steph at The Biopsy Report for raising a question on Specialist Breast Centres. This has become an emotive subject with the threatened closure of some breast cancer units around the country and while I fully understand the concerns of local groups campaigning against these closures, I nevertheless believe that Specialist Breast Centres offer women diagnosed with breast cancer the best chance of survival. A Specialist Breast Centre offers specialist services to women who have been referred by their doctors.International research has shown that diagnosis and treatment in specialised centres improve survival rates for women diagnosed with breast cancer by 25 to 30%. The centres must see a large number of patients in order that personnel maintain expertise. All doctors and nurses in specialist centres have specific training in dealing with breast disease. National Quality Assurance Standards have been developed and HIQA (Health Information and Quality Authority) will be accrediting centres based on these standards.


If a woman is referred to a Specialist Breast Centre by her GP, she will undergo a Triple AssessmentTriple Assessment refers to a clinical examination, an ultrasound or mammogram (depending on the woman’s age) and, if required, a biopsy. The majority of women referred to a Specialist Breast Centre do NOT have Breast Cancer. However, if a woman is diagnosed with Breast Cancer, then her treatment programme is planned at a Multidisciplinary Conference.   

Multidisciplinary Teams have special expertise and training in breast cancer and are made up of breast surgeons, breast radiologists, breast care nurses, medical oncologists and radiation oncologists.


 An estimated one in twelve Irish women will develop breast cancer in their lifetime, with over 1,700 new cases of the disease diagnosed in Ireland each year.  Early diagnosis is key and Triple Assessment at a Specialist Breast Centre is recognised as best practice for the rapid diagnosis and treatment of breast cancer.  

EuropaDonna Ireland, the Irish Breast Campaign have produced a helpful leaflet explaining Specialist Breast Centres and what to expect there, along with a location  of Specialist Breast Centres in Ireland.

You can download the leaflet in pdf form here or contact them requesting a copy.