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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

    Are mammograms painful after having lumpectomy & reduction surgeries?

    Asked by anonymous

    Survivor since 2011
    almost 9 years 1 answer
    • Debbie Serrano Profile
      anonymous
      Learning About Breast Cancer

      I just had my mammorgam done last week on both. The side that had the cancer wasn't bad it was the good side. I recieved my letter from the Radiology and it states: We are pleased to inform you that the results of the exam APPEARS to be normal is it or not? They took several pictures on the...

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      I just had my mammorgam done last week on both. The side that had the cancer wasn't bad it was the good side. I recieved my letter from the Radiology and it states: We are pleased to inform you that the results of the exam APPEARS to be normal is it or not? They took several pictures on the good side.. Has anyone ever end up with cancer on the other side? It will be 1 year in Jan since I had a lumpectomy on the left breast. I taking Aromasin. We will all be fine in Gods grace..God Bless

      Comment
  • Cheryl Philson Profile

    I am having financial trouble and looking for inexpensive follow up care. I have absolutely no symptoms and I am 54 years old . Breast cancer does not run in my family.

    Asked by anonymous

    Learning About Breast Cancer
    over 7 years 2 answers
    • Sharon Danielson Profile
      anonymous
      Survivor since 2007

      Get a hold of Planned Parenthood, Susan G. Komen Foundation, The American Cancer Society. Between the 3, you will be able to get annual mammogram's. Unfortunately, just because you do not have a family history of breast cancer it is just one factor in a woman's chances of having breast cancer. ...

      more

      Get a hold of Planned Parenthood, Susan G. Komen Foundation, The American Cancer Society. Between the 3, you will be able to get annual mammogram's. Unfortunately, just because you do not have a family history of breast cancer it is just one factor in a woman's chances of having breast cancer. I also had no other family members with breast cancer but was diagnosed 5 years ago. The best thing you can do for yourself is get a yearly mammogram and do monthly self checks. The self check was how I discovered my own breast cancer 7 months after I had my annual mammogram. Pay attention to the list of symptoms for breast cancer. As we age, our chances for cancer, in general, increase. Take care, Sharon

      Comment
    • Traciann brundage Profile
      anonymous
      Learning About Breast Cancer

      Was looking online last night and Susan g moment has an area where you can apply for follow up care after recovering from cancer .

      Comment
  • Kathleen Harris Profile

    If "cluster of calcification." is found to be malignant, does it always mean early stage or could it be more advanced?

    Asked by anonymous

    Learning About Breast Cancer
    about 8 years 3 answers
    • Lysa Allison Profile
      anonymous
      Learning About Breast Cancer

      The only way to know for sure is to have it biopsied which I would recommend. I had cluster calcifications and the cancer was stage 0 and the tumor size was 0. Early diagnosis and treatment is key. Best of luck to you and keep us posted.

      Comment
    • Anne Marie jacintho Profile
      anonymous
      Survivor since 2003

      My mammograms also showed micro calcifications. On the mammogram it look like how when you take a black piece of construction paper , poke holes in it and then shine a light behind it all the holes brighten up. I had it biopsied and as with lysa it was a very early stage of breast cancer. I...

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      My mammograms also showed micro calcifications. On the mammogram it look like how when you take a black piece of construction paper , poke holes in it and then shine a light behind it all the holes brighten up. I had it biopsied and as with lysa it was a very early stage of breast cancer. I agree with Lysa, Any suspicious areas on a mammogram should be biopsied

      Comment
  • Thumb avatar default

    I just had a diagnostic mammogram and ultrasound. My doctor said he is over 95% certain I have cancer. Is it normal to be able to tell just from mammogram and ultrasound? Does that mean I have a large tumor?

    Asked by anonymous

    Learning About Breast Cancer
    over 3 years 4 answers
    • View all 4 answers
    • Betti A Profile
      anonymous
      Survivor since 2013

      Drs. trained in reading studies can usually tell by the films they look at but the only way to see what it truly is is to do a biopsy.

      Comment
    • Sharon Danielson Profile
      anonymous
      Survivor since 2007

      I, too, was told "Expect the biopsy to come back as breast cancer." Many times, the shape and density, of the suspicious area is telling. My tumor was a very weird shape, it was very hard, and felt lumpy. It was not at all like other lumps I had felt in my breasts. I knew, the second I found...

      more

      I, too, was told "Expect the biopsy to come back as breast cancer." Many times, the shape and density, of the suspicious area is telling. My tumor was a very weird shape, it was very hard, and felt lumpy. It was not at all like other lumps I had felt in my breasts. I knew, the second I found it, it was bad. Doctors who look at hundreds and hundreds of lumps each and every day can tell a lump that is classic for breast cancer. There are also time when they can be wrong and that is why a biopsy is needed to confirm their suspicions. There are so many treatments for breast cancers, it is not the death sentence it once was. Hang in there and take care, Sharon

      Comment

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