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Breast Unit

Breast unit

Our breast unit team

Our dedicated and specialist breast care team diagnose and treat people with breast cancer and benign (non-cancerous) conditions of the breast.

Our specialist multi-disciplinary team consists of breast surgeons, radiologists, breast care nurses, oncologists and histopathologists to provide high quality care and experiences for our patients.

Patients referred by their GP with breast symptoms are seen in one of our one stop rapid diagnostic clinics by our team of breast specialists.


Our services

Breast screening service

We offer a breast screening service via the national breast-screening programme for patients aged between 50 and 70 years of age in the local area. If the breast screening highlights possible signs of breast cancer, the patient will undergo further investigations, managed by our breast service team at St Margaret’s Hospital in Epping.

Breast surgery

We offer a range of breast surgery techniques to treat breast cancers, including routine breast cancer surgeries, oncoplastic surgery (breast cancer removal with plastic surgery techniques) and breast reconstruction.

We work in conjunction with the plastic surgery team at St Andrew’s Medical Centre, Broomfield Hospital, Mid and South Essex NHS Foundation Trust, to ensure that we provide a full range of reconstructive options for our patients.

Family history service

We run a robust family history service and perform risk-reducing surgery for patients with confirmed genetic mutations, who have an increased risk of developing breast cancer.

Meet our team

Meet our team

Surgical team
Mr. Bijan Ansari, consultant oncoplastic breast surgeon
Miss Hannah Winter, consultant oncoplastic breast surgeon
Mr. Ashraf Patel, associate specialist, breast surgery
Mr. Eshagh Mokhtari, specialty doctor, breast surgery
Mr. Edwin Elangovan, specialty doctor, breast surgery

Breast nursing team
Claire Grainger, lead breast care nurse specialist
Alison Shoard, breast care nurse specialist
Karen Whitelock, breast care nurse specialist
Fiona Mascall, associate breast care nurse
Kate Foster, family history clinical nurse specialist

Radiology team
Dr Anthony Aylwin, consultant radiologist and director of breast screening
Dr Pauline Rajan, consultant radiologist
Dr James Hodson, consultant radiologist
Ms. Helen Newman, consultant mammographer
Seena Thomas, superintendent radiographer

Oncology team
Dr Niraj Goyal, consultant clinical oncologist
Dr Apostolos Konstantis, consultant medical oncologist
Dr Julian Singer, consultant clinical oncologist

Histopathology team
Dr Preethi Gopinath, consultant histopathologist
Dr Nidhi Jain, consultant histopathologist
Dr Mustafa Mohamed, consultant histopathologist
Dr Salma Al-Ramadhani, consultant histopathologist
Dr Saimah Arif, consultant histopathologist
Dr Veronica Moyo, consultant histopathologist

Breast management team
Janet Skeys, breast service manager
Helen Lavelle, assistant service manager, breast screening
Daniel Gadsdon, assistant service manager, breast surgery

Administrative team
Our administration team are based in the main office and reception areas. They are the first point of contact to welcome our patients, clients and visitors to the breast unit.

They are available to help and support with any questions, enquiries and provide the latest information for our symptomatic and breast screening services. They also manage our symptomatic breast clinic appointment booking service.

The team also coordinate our breast-screening programme for the West Essex area.

Our team of highly qualified mammographers are here to support our patients through their imaging scans at the breast unit.

Outpatient clinic team
Our team of dedicated and friendly nurses and support workers help to run a smooth and efficient outpatient service.

Our breast unit charity

We work very closely with our dedicated breast unit charity to support with cancer research and recruit patients to clinical trials, where appropriate. You can read more about our charity via this link.

Contact us

How to find us

Our breast unit is based at St Margaret’s Hospital, The Plain, in Epping (CM16 6AN).

Clinic appointments are held at our outpatient department and our breast imaging service is performed at Birchwood House, adjacent to the outpatients department.

If breast surgery is required, surgery will take place at The Princess Alexandra Hospital, Hamstel Road, in Harlow (CM20 1QX).

How to contact us

If you need to cancel or change a new or follow-up clinic appointment with the breast clinic please call 01279 827302.

If you need to cancel or change an appointment for a breast ultrasound or mammogram please call 01279 827046.

If you need to contact the breast screening team, please refer to the breast screening section.

New patient clinics

Patients referred from their GP with one of the following symptoms will be seen in our new patient clinic by a specialist breast doctor:

  • A breast lump or a lump in the armpit
  • Skin changes on the breast, including dimpling or indentation
  • Discharge from the nipple
  • A change in the shape or skin of the nipple, such as crusting
  • A difference in the shape or size of a breast

At your appointment, the doctor will first ask you questions about the following:

  • Your symptoms
  • Past medical history
  • Current medications
  • Any family history of relevant cancers

After, you will be examined in the presence of a chaperone and discuss whether further investigations are required.

If further investigations are required, they are usually performed on the same day. Investigations may include a mammogram if you are over 40 years of age and /or an ultrasound of the breast. Your appointment could take up to three hours if further investigations are needed.

What is a mammogram?

A mammogram is a specialised x-ray of the breasts. The mammogram takes an x-ray of two different angles of the breasts, one at a time, and can be a little uncomfortable. This discomfort lasts for a very short time.

What is an ultrasound?

An ultrasound is a painless and quick test of the breast. During the ultrasound, a gel is placed on the skin and an ultrasound probe placed over the gel. This probe produces high frequency sound waves and sends images to the ultrasound machine. You may feel a little pressure during the ultrasound, but this is not painful.

Patients are often discharged home on the same day, but sometimes a biopsy is recommended. A biopsy is the removal of a small piece of tissue from the breast that is sent to our pathology team for further investigation and a diagnosis by our histopathology team.

Local anaesthetic is used for the biopsy and this can be slightly uncomfortable. A biopsy can also result in bruising afterwards, particularly if you take medications that thin your blood. If you have a biopsy of the breast, an appointment will be arranged, either in person or by telephone and results are usually given two weeks later.

Useful websites

Breast cancer now – breast lumps and benign breast conditions

NHS – how should I check my breasts?

Useful patient information leaflets

Breast cancer now – breast pain

Breast cancer now – breast cysts

Breast cancer now – fibroadenoma

Breast cancer now – gynaecomastia

Breast cancer now – know your breasts

Breast screening

Women between the ages of 50 and 70 years and 11 months of age are invited for a mammogram every three years at our mobile breast-screening unit. There are a range of different sites to attend, depending on where you live.

If you require further investigation following your mammogram, you will be invited to our assessment clinic at Birchwood House, St Margaret’s Hospital, in Epping.

Patients diagnosed with a breast cancer following their breast screening are referred to our breast team at St. Margaret’s Hospital for further management, treatment and support from our breast care nurses.

Whilst women over the age of 70 years and 11 months are not routinely invited for screening, they are able to refer themselves directly every three years by contacting the screening unit.

To check when you are due to attend your breast screening appointment, rebook an appointment or book a self-referral if you are over the age of the invite, please call 01992 560001.

Useful websites

Government website – breast screening

My health Essex – breast screening

Breast cancer diagnosis

A new diagnosis of breast cancer can be a frightening and daunting time for you and your loved ones.

We aim to provide you with the highest quality care and experience by offering support for you, your family and carers throughout this time and useful information to help make the decisions about your treatment.

There are a wide range of breast cancer diagnoses, which can include non-invasive conditions such as Ductal Carcinoma in Situ (DCIS), where the cancer cells are found in the ducts within the breast, and invasive breast cancer. Invasive breast cancer means that the cancer cells have spread outside of the breast ducts into the surrounding breast tissue.

Treatment for breast cancer usually consists of a combination of treatments to treat the breast area, including breast surgery and radiotherapy, alongside systemic treatments, which treat the whole body.

Systemic treatments can include chemotherapy and targeted treatments such as Herceptin and hormone treatments. Not all of our patients require the treatments listed and they are tailored to you and your cancer diagnosis.

Our teams will discuss the best treatment options for you to remove the cancer and reduce the risk of recurrence in the future.

Useful websites

Breast cancer now – diagnosed with cancer

Useful patient information leaflets

Breast cancer now – breast cancer and you

Breast cancer now - DCIS

Breast cancer now – invasive breast cancer

Breast cancer now – invasive lobular breast cancer

Breast reconstruction surgery

If you have been recommended to have a mastectomy (a surgical procedure to remove the breast) either to treat a breast cancer or to reduce your risk of developing a breast cancer, you will have the opportunity to discuss breast reconstruction.

If this is a suitable option for you, you may decide to have a reconstruction at the same time as the mastectomy, known as immediate reconstruction, or later, known as delayed reconstruction.

Your breast surgeon will explain the options, benefits and drawbacks of each option depending on your diagnosis and treatment.

We work in conjunction with the plastic surgery team at St Andrew’s Medical Centre, Broomfield Hospital, Mid and South Essex NHS Foundation Trust, to ensure that we provide a full range of reconstructive options for our patients.

Together with our breast care nursing team, we will help to guide and support you to understand your options and to make the right decision for you.

Useful website

Breast cancer now – breast reconstruction

Useful patient information leaflet

Breast cancer now – breast reconstruction

Family history service

We run a robust family history service and perform risk-reducing surgery for patients with confirmed genetic mutations, who have an increased risk of developing breast cancer.

If you think you have a higher risk of developing a breast cancer, please visit your GP to be referred to our breast clinic, where appropriate.

We assess your risk of developing breast cancer and where appropriate, refer you for a genetic test. We also discuss and advise on measures that women can take to reduce their risk of developing breast cancer.

Some patients may require regular monitoring with scans such as a mammogram or MRI scan. Mammograms are performed at St Margaret’s Hospital in Epping and MRI scans are performed at The Princess Alexandra Hospital in Harlow.

If you are identified as having a genetic mutation that is known to increase your risk of developing a breast cancer, we offer a range of support and guidance to reduce and manage your risk of developing breast cancer. This may include regular scans as mentioned above, medication known as chemoprevention and possibly risk reducing surgery.

If you have an existing appointment with the family history team that you need to amend, please call 01279 973877.

Useful website

Breast cancer now – family history and breast cance

Inpatient comment:

Everyone offered words of such reassurance and kindness. I felt so cared for and the communication with me at all times was fantastic.