Breast Care Unit

About us

The Breast Care Unit at the North Devon District Hospital cares for patients with all forms of breast cancer and benign breast problems. The unit is run by a multidisciplinary team of breast care specialists including:

  • Surgeons
  • Breast care nurses
  • Radiologists
  • Radiographers
  • Outpatient nursing staff
  • And clerical staff

There are three clinics provided by the unit and a specialist breast care nursing team to support you while you are being treated.

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Patient E 2017

"I really appreciated your care, love and attention you showed me. You are a great team"


Breast Clinics

The unit offers a one-stop breast clinic at North Devon District Hospital which led by specialist breast clinicians. Following your first appointment you may be advised that further investigations are required; where possible these will be done on the same day. We advise you to allow 4 hours when visiting the clinic.

The unit also offers breast pain clinics at North Devon District Hospital, Torrington Hospital and a nurse led Family History clinic at North Devon District Hospital.

What investigations may be done?

There are a number of investigations that maybe performed to diagnose your conditions. Where possible these investigations are carried out at North Devon District Hospital however, it may be necessary to travel to the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital in Exeter for some. You will be advised by the team treating you as to what investigations are needed. Some of the potential investigations are explained below.


This test is painless and takes a few minutes. A special gel is spread onto the breasts and a small device, which emits sound waves, is passed over the area being investigated. The echoes from the sound waves are converted into a picture using a computer.


This is an x-ray technique for examining the breast. The breast is held firmly between two plastic plates and pictures taken; usually two pictures of each side. Some women find the examination uncomfortable and a few say it is painful particularly if the breasts are tender. Sometimes more than two views are required.

Needle aspiration

This is a quick and simple procedure. Using a fine needle and syringe, the doctor takes a sample of cells from the breast. This may result in some bruising. The sample is then sent to the pathology department for examination.

Core biopsy

This test uses a cutting needle to obtain pieces of tissue from the breast. Because the needle is thicker than the one used for aspiration, it is done under a local anaesthetic. As with a needle aspiration some bruising at the entry site may occur. The sample is then sent to the pathology department for examination.

What support is available?

The unit has a team of specialist Breast Care nurses who are able to provide support information and education for patients and their carers/family on breast cancer and breast conditions generally. A member of the Breast Care Nursing team aims to be present to support patients during investigations and at time of diagnosis. The team is able to offer:

  • Emotional/psychological support.
  • Results Clinic.
  • Wound assessment.
  • Pre and post-operative assessment/counselling.
  • Seroma aspiration (drawing off fluid).
  • Follow up support as needed.
  • Provision and fitting of specialist breast care products including advice on bras and the fitting of full or partial breast form (prosthesis).
  • Liaison with GPs, other nurses and local lingerie suppliers and self-help groups.
  • Information about national and local support groups.
  • Onward referrals e.g. hospice, lymphoedema services, anxiety and depression.
  • Health Need Assessments
  • Moving Forward Events
  • Online Closed Support Group
  • Access to a counsellor

The breast care nurses can be contacted Mon – Fri, 9 am to 5 pm either by telephone on 01271 322 577 and asking for the breast care nurse. Or by leaving a message on the 24 hr answerphone on 01271 349 115.

Where can I get more information?

More information on the service and treatments given can be found in our patient information leaflets below.

Last updated: November 28, 2017