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Diagnosis

 
Diagnosis

Chapter: 4 - Diagnosis

Subchapter: 3 - Diagnostic Methods

Breast Health Awareness
Becoming familiar with your breasts and knowing what is normal for you will help you detect changes or abnormalities, if they occur. This is breast health awareness.

The initial sign of breast cancer may involve a new lump or change in the breast. A new nipple inversion, an area of significant irritation or redness, dimpling or thickening of the breast skin, and persistent breast pain or discomfort are reasons to seek prompt medical evaluation.

Breast Self-Exam
A breast self-exam is an examination of the breasts for changes or abnormalities. A self breast-exam should be performed monthly and any changes or abnormalities should be discussed with your doctor or physician. For more information about how to perform a breast self-exam, please visit http://nbcf.org.

Clinical Breast Exam
A clinical breast exam is an exam preformed by a qualified nurse or doctor; they will check for lumps or other physical changes in the breast. The goal is to detect breast cancer in its earliest stages, either by evaluating the patient’s symptoms or finding breast abnormalities.

Mammogram
Having a regularly scheduled mammogram, the standard diagnostic scan, is especially important. A mammogram is an x-ray; the breast is exposed to a small dose of iodizing radiation that produces an image of the breast tissue.

If your mammogram or a clinical exam detects a suspicious site, further investigation is always necessary. Although lumps are usually non-cancerous, the only way to be certain is to obtain additional tests, such as an ultrasound. If a solid mass appears on the ultrasound, your radiologist may recommend a biopsy, a procedure in which cells are removed from a suspicious area to check for the presence of cancer.

Early Detection Plan®
Because early detection is so vital, the National Breast Cancer Foundation offers women the Early Detection Plan®, an online tool that helps remind you to schedule a breast self-exam, clinical breast exam, and mammogram. Because of the demands of everyday life, it’s easy to forget or even fear these exams; which is why this program exists. You can subscribe to receive alerts by e-mail, text message, and even through an RSS feed. It only takes 60 seconds to create an Early Detection Plan, but it could save your life.

Ultrasound and MRI
As we mentioned previously, when a suspicious site is detected in your breast, your doctor may require an ultrasound of the breast tissue. An ultrasound is a scan that uses sound waves to paint a picture of what’s going on inside of the body. Ultrasounds are helpful when a lump is easily felt and can be used to further evaluate any abnormalities discovered on a mammogram.

Each exam will provide a different perspective. When your initial exams are not conclusive, your doctor may recommend an MRI to asses the extent of the disease. An MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) is a scan of the body that uses magnetic energy and radio waves, rather than radiation, to view organs and tissues in the body.

Related Questions

  • Thumb avatar default

    Has anyone else been in this position? I have to have a repeat mammogram and ultrasound on density of the left breast. I had a biopsy last year.

    Asked by anonymous

    Learning About Breast Cancer
    over 6 years 2 answers
    • Sharon Danielson Profile
      anonymous
      Survivor since 2007

      Arrgh! Hate the call-backs. I would suggest one more test and that would be an MRI.
      It can show up small changes very clearly. MOST of these call-backs turn out to be NOTHING! Take care, Sharon

      Comment
    • Marianne R. Profile
      anonymous
      Survivor since 2011

      No one likes call backs BUT better to go and get a "nothing" than to go and miss breast cancer. Mine was found in a call back the 3 other call backs were clear number 4 was invasive lobular and rarely shows up even the MRI said show about 2 cm the cancer turned out to be 7.3 cm.

      Comment
  • Thumb avatar default

    I'm 20 years old. I recently went to my doctor for a breast exam, and( after the exam) she informed me that I need to go get an ultrasound. What do I need to know? What should I expect?

    Asked by anonymous

    Learning About Breast Cancer
    over 5 years 5 answers
    • View all 5 answers
    • André Roberts Profile
      anonymous
      Stage 1 Patient

      It could just be a cyst. Don't worry yourself until you know. Prayers to you.

      Comment
    • Thumb avatar default
      anonymous
      Survivor since 2011

      If you have an older sister or you feel comfortable bringing your own mom or an aunt, do that. I remember being 20 and I wouldn't have had a clue as to what to ask, especially concerning WHY they are doing an u/s. You are young to be a breast cancer patient, but have someone with you if...

      more

      If you have an older sister or you feel comfortable bringing your own mom or an aunt, do that. I remember being 20 and I wouldn't have had a clue as to what to ask, especially concerning WHY they are doing an u/s. You are young to be a breast cancer patient, but have someone with you if possible to help you navigate. Good luck!

      Comment
  • Patricia D Farber Profile

    Where can I get a free mammogram?

    Asked by anonymous

    Learning About Breast Cancer
    over 7 years 4 answers
    • View all 4 answers
    • Catherine Nodurft Profile
      anonymous
      Family Member or Loved One

      The National Breast Cancer Foundation has a National Mammography Program that provides mammograms to women in need. You can find a list of hospitals with programs that assist those needing diagnostic services through our partner site at http://breastcan.cr/hPWowD.

      2 comments
    • Kelly Smith Profile
      anonymous
      Stage 3B Patient

      It depends on your location. In Illinois we have the Illinois Breast and Cervical Cancer Screening Program 888-522-1282. If not in Illinois you can try contacting your local health department or even try the American Cancer Society at 1-800-ACS-2345 and maybe they can direct you. Start by looking...

      more

      It depends on your location. In Illinois we have the Illinois Breast and Cervical Cancer Screening Program 888-522-1282. If not in Illinois you can try contacting your local health department or even try the American Cancer Society at 1-800-ACS-2345 and maybe they can direct you. Start by looking online for resources in your area.

      Comment
  • Roberta Galipeau Wilson-Taff Martin Profile

    I need help with early detection. I have no insurance or job. Any advice?

    Asked by anonymous

    Learning About Breast Cancer
    about 6 years 8 answers
    • View all 8 answers
    • Sharon Danielson Profile
      anonymous
      Survivor since 2007

      Roberta,
      So I went to one of my best friend's "Mr. Google". The Health Department in your town WILL do breast screenings. Here is the office and phone numbers. It also had a list of services they perform. This is the part that pertains to you. You call them tomorrow and get in to get a...

      more

      Roberta,
      So I went to one of my best friend's "Mr. Google". The Health Department in your town WILL do breast screenings. Here is the office and phone numbers. It also had a list of services they perform. This is the part that pertains to you. You call them tomorrow and get in to get a mammogram .... please! Keep scrolling down. Sharon
      Clinic Location & Contact Information

      1808 South Hickory
      Sapulpa, Oklahoma 74066
      (918) 224-5531 Phone
      (918) 224-1739 Fax

      Adult Health
      Clinic provides annual health exams for adults of all ages both male and female. Services included are: Breast and Cervical Cancer Screening and treatment referral, Prostate Education, Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STD’s) testing, along with screening and monitoring of the following chronic diseases; Cholesterol, High Blood Pressure, Diabetes.

      Comment
    • Sharon Danielson Profile
      anonymous
      Survivor since 2007

      PLEASE LOOK FOR MY SECOND POSTING... I FOUND THE HEALTH DEPARTMENT IN YOUR TOWN THAT WILL DO BREAST SCREENINGS (MAMMOGRAMS) ADDRESS AND PHONE NUMBERS INCLUDED. Sharon

      Roberta,
      My other "Sisters" here have given you good advice about where to check for care. Right now, what you need is a...

      more

      PLEASE LOOK FOR MY SECOND POSTING... I FOUND THE HEALTH DEPARTMENT IN YOUR TOWN THAT WILL DO BREAST SCREENINGS (MAMMOGRAMS) ADDRESS AND PHONE NUMBERS INCLUDED. Sharon

      Roberta,
      My other "Sisters" here have given you good advice about where to check for care. Right now, what you need is a mammogram. I would also check with the closest American Cancer Society, Planned Parenthood, Susan G. Komen.Org. The latter two, generally have funding for free mammograms. October, is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. You have proven in spite of so many tough breaks in your life to be one stong cookie and a complete and total survivor. I wouldn't go pushing the breast cancer panic button. So many times, these can turn out to be nothing more than a scary time! Please start checking these places TOMORROW! I want you to get in to have a mammogram somewhere asap. We care about what you are going through right now. PLEASE keep in touch with us. We will help and support you as much as we can out here. Take care and God's blessings, Sharon

      Comment

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