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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

    Does hook wire hurt?

    Asked by anonymous

    Learning About Breast Cancer
    about 6 years 9 answers
    • View all 9 answers
    • Thumb avatar default
      anonymous
      Learning About Breast Cancer

      To answer Vicki, a hook wire is a piece of wire that is placed in the tumor from the outside of your breast using and ultra sound, usually just before surgery, so it makes it easier for the doctor to locate the lump. I didn't have one because I had a mastectomy but I am told they are not that...

      more

      To answer Vicki, a hook wire is a piece of wire that is placed in the tumor from the outside of your breast using and ultra sound, usually just before surgery, so it makes it easier for the doctor to locate the lump. I didn't have one because I had a mastectomy but I am told they are not that painful.

      Comment
    • K G Profile
      anonymous
      Survivor since 2011

      Are you talking about right before a lumpectomy? I had a wire placed the day of surgery, and it was similiar to the biopsy I had. It did not hurt me much.

      Comment
  • 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
    almost 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

    My mammogram results came back as an asymmetrical tubular finding? Could it mean that the mammogram was not taken clear?

    Asked by anonymous

    Learning About Breast Cancer
    about 6 years 1 answer
    • Sandy Ramos Profile
      anonymous
      Learning About Breast Cancer

      No one has answered you. I am interested in the answer. Did you find out?

      Comment
  • Aunia Hall Profile

    I have an ultrasound guided biopsy on Monday and my Dr. said I should hear something in 2-3 days after. How long does it actually take to get the pathology report and test results?

    Asked by anonymous

    Family Member or Loved One
    about 6 years 10 answers
    • View all 10 answers
    • Thumb avatar default
      anonymous
      Learning About Breast Cancer

      An MRI guided biopsy is different than an ultrasound guided biopsy. An ultrasound biopsy is not that bad really, it only takes about 15 min. Good luck and just keep in mind that most biopsies come back not showing any cancer.

      1 comment
    • Sharon Danielson Profile
      anonymous
      Survivor since 2007

      Aunia, we all understand the angst of the wait. I had to wait 3 days. I also had an ultrasound guided biopsy. It didn't take that long and like Diana, I was just a little sore afterward.... remember to put some ice on the area. So many of these are benign, so don't worry yourself sick about...

      more

      Aunia, we all understand the angst of the wait. I had to wait 3 days. I also had an ultrasound guided biopsy. It didn't take that long and like Diana, I was just a little sore afterward.... remember to put some ice on the area. So many of these are benign, so don't worry yourself sick about it. Your doctor is just being proactive and looking out for your best interest. I have a huge circle of friends and many of them have had this type of test..... of them all, I am the only one whose test came out positive. Hang in there Aunia.... we are all here to help support one another. Blessings to you, Sharon

      Comment

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