Breast cancer diagnosis


The triple test refers to three diagnostic components used to investigate new breast symptoms that could be due to breast cancer: (i) patient history and clinical examination; (ii) diagnostic imaging; (iii) non-excisional biopsy and surgical referral.

Clinical resources

This section outlines useful resources on the triple test, breast imaging and pathology reporting.

The triple test

  • Investigation of a new breast symptom - a guide for general practitioners 
    Publication date: October 2021
    ​This guide for GPs is designed to maximise the effectiveness of the investigation of symptoms that could be breast cancer. The guide indicates steps to be taken in investigating symptoms that could be breast cancer, and provides information about the triple test approach to diagnosis. The triple test is the recommended approach to investigating new breast symptoms. The triple test involves patient history and clinical breast examination; mammography and/or ultrasound imaging; and the use of non-excisional biopsy. When performed appropriately, the triple test will detect over 99.6% of cancers.

Breast imaging

  • Synoptic breast imaging report (PDF 217 kb)
    Publication date: April 2007
    Includes a five-point classification system for imaging findings to help prevent errors in interpretation and to effectively communicate the level of concern between the radiologist and referring doctor.
  • Synoptic breast imaging report reference card (PDF 144kb)
    Publication date: April 2007
    Pocket-sized card providing a summary of the requirements of the synoptic report.

Pathology reporting