A prospective study was carried out on 143 consecutive patients with palpable lumps larger than 2 cm in size which were clinically suspicious of carcinoma. One hundred and five lumps proved to be malignant and 38 were benign. Of the 105 patients with malignancy, confirmation was made in 95 by fine-needle aspiration cytology (FNAC) with a sensitivity of 90.4% and 100 by core biopsy with a sensitivity of 95.2%. The sensitivity of core biopsies increased with the number of cores taken (one core, 76.2%; two cores, 80.9%, three cores, 89.2%; four cores, 95.2%). The combined sensitivity of FNAC and core biopsies was 100%, and so are complementary in the accurate diagnosis of breast cancer. Patients presenting to the breast clinic with a solid suspicious breast lump larger than 2 cm can benefit from FNAC and a minimum of four core biopsies to improve diagnosis.