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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

  • Zoie Peterson Profile

    Will a lump be visual? I feel something but I don't see a lump.

    Asked by anonymous

    Learning About Breast Cancer
    over 6 years 7 answers
    • View all 7 answers
    • Cheryl Wornham Profile
      anonymous
      Learning About Breast Cancer

      I agree with Vickie call your Dr. and get checked

      Comment
    • Isabel Souchet Profile
      anonymous
      Survivor since 2010

      I didn't seen mine but I felt it. Make an appt with your gyno to get a mammo

      Comment
  • nancy  wilcox Profile

    Shopping around for the best price pays... I can get an MRI ranging from $953- $1,244 at another hospital! Thank you, Sharon!

    Asked by anonymous

    Learning About Breast Cancer
    over 6 years 3 answers
    • Sharon Danielson Profile
      anonymous
      Survivor since 2007

      I am SOOOO glad you were able to shop around and get a lower cost MRI. When we think of healthcare.... and testing.... it is a place where we can shop around without jeopardizing our health! If we didn't get testing because of cost.... that would definitely impact our well-being.
      We are...

      more

      I am SOOOO glad you were able to shop around and get a lower cost MRI. When we think of healthcare.... and testing.... it is a place where we can shop around without jeopardizing our health! If we didn't get testing because of cost.... that would definitely impact our well-being.
      We are women.... WE KNOW HOW TO SHOP!!! Thank you for letting me know, Nancy. Hopefully, your success will pay of (literally) for other women when looking to save money in healthcare. Take care, Sharon

      Comment
    • nancy  wilcox Profile
      anonymous
      Learning About Breast Cancer

      thanks!!! I will keep you both totally ABREAST of the situation :)

      1 comment
  • Thumb avatar default

    Has any one else had this experience? I am on EC Chemo routine (neoadjuvant) and the lump has shrunk only marginally. Next, I'm going onto TAX (1st one tomorrow). I will have another MRI follwing 2 Tax to see if lump is responding.

    Asked by anonymous

    Patient
    over 6 years 5 answers
    • View all 5 answers
    • Diana Foster Payne Profile
      anonymous
      Stage 4 Patient

      Yes, but I wasn't on EC. I began with A/C then Taxol afterwards. I also had neoadjuvant treatment. I didn't respond as much as my Onc had hoped with my tumor only minimally shrinking. I had my bilateral mastectomy then three weeks afterwards I began chemo again with two different drugs (Gemzar &...

      more

      Yes, but I wasn't on EC. I began with A/C then Taxol afterwards. I also had neoadjuvant treatment. I didn't respond as much as my Onc had hoped with my tumor only minimally shrinking. I had my bilateral mastectomy then three weeks afterwards I began chemo again with two different drugs (Gemzar & Carboplatin). I had 8 rounds & radiation afterwards. I'm happy to say that I am now cancer free. Don't lose hope. There are several different chemo drugs out there and if you don't respond to one...then there are others. You can read my complete story on my bio if you like. I'll keep you in my thoughts & prayers, Diana

      2 comments
    • Diana Foster Payne Profile
      anonymous
      Stage 4 Patient

      I'm so glad I could help. And thank you for the well wishes. Yes, my biography. It should come up if you click on my name. :)

      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 6 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

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