loading... close

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

  • J ARCHER Profile

    I had my first mammogram last Tues. and "more images" needed, then got "8 sample core biopsy" for "amorphous calcium deposits" Anyone had this and gotten great benign news?

    Asked by anonymous

    Learning About Breast Cancer
    over 7 years 4 answers
    • View all 4 answers
    • Sharon Danielson Profile
      anonymous
      Survivor since 2007

      I have had three friends have biopsy's because of these specks of calcium and their tests came back benign. They were all in their 50's. Another friend age 44 had the same thing and it came back DCIS. She is just completely her treatment which consisted of a mastectomy but no other treatment. ...

      more

      I have had three friends have biopsy's because of these specks of calcium and their tests came back benign. They were all in their 50's. Another friend age 44 had the same thing and it came back DCIS. She is just completely her treatment which consisted of a mastectomy but no other treatment. She is in the process of having reconstruction. She had to have a mastectomy because it was so wide spread. Hang in there and take care, Sharon

      Comment
    • Bonnie Irwin Profile
      anonymous
      Learning About Breast Cancer

      I am 41. I went in for my first mammogram and they found areas of concern. So after ultrasound and biopsies they said it was DCIS. Everyone said if you were to have cancer, this is the one to have. It is considered stage zero. Before they would perform the lumpectomy they ordered an MRI to...

      more

      I am 41. I went in for my first mammogram and they found areas of concern. So after ultrasound and biopsies they said it was DCIS. Everyone said if you were to have cancer, this is the one to have. It is considered stage zero. Before they would perform the lumpectomy they ordered an MRI to make sure there wasn't anything else and to verify the size of the DCIS. The MRI showed up against my chest wall was a small tumor. The biopsy after that showed to be invasive breast cancer. Just like that, everything changed. The mammogram did not see this. Now I have had a mastectomy on the left side. The MRI also showed concerns on the other side, but they were benign. The surgeon did lumpectomy on the right side. I also had a pet scan. Neither the petscan nor the MRI showed any cancer in the lymph nodes. But after the lymph node dissection, 2 of 14 were positive for cancer. I hope they order an MRI for you, unless your biopsies turn out benign. I remember when they first found the calcium deposits they said they were going to biopsy them "to prove they weren't cancer". So there is hope!

      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
    over 7 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
  • lois bunin Profile

    Suddenly I had an off/on medium pain in my breast. Is that a sign of breast cancer?

    Asked by anonymous

    Learning About Breast Cancer
    about 7 years 5 answers
    • View all 5 answers
    • Thumb avatar default
      anonymous
      Survivor since 2012

      I never had pain but a strange tingling sensation in my nipple. I knew I had a lump but got an ok mammogram. I thought the feeling was caused by my clothing or a stray erotic thought I didn't know I was having since it acted as if my nipple had been stimulated. Since it wasn't unpleasant and I...

      more

      I never had pain but a strange tingling sensation in my nipple. I knew I had a lump but got an ok mammogram. I thought the feeling was caused by my clothing or a stray erotic thought I didn't know I was having since it acted as if my nipple had been stimulated. Since it wasn't unpleasant and I was embarrassed to say something, I didn't mention it to the surgeon when I saw him. Evidently, a 2.7 cm tumor of invasive ductal cancer can cause strange feelings. Haven't had that sensation since it was removed. Get it checked and don't take no for an answer. Jo

      Comment
    • Rita Jo Hayes Profile
      anonymous
      Survivor since 2009

      You may be told cancer Doug's not cause pain, but mine was. If you have any doubt have it checked out. Good luck.

      1 comment
  • anonymous Profile

    Just had my final chemo. (Yay!) My Onc says that I won't get regular scans. He said its not the standard of care and hasn't been shown to make much difference, other than stressing out the patient. Anyone else heard of this?

    Asked by anonymous

    Stage 1 Patient
    over 6 years 12 answers
    • View all 12 answers
    • Erin Timlin Profile
      anonymous
      Survivor since 2011

      I have never had any scans and my oncologist has told me there is no evidence that the cancer is anywhere else in my body. I have no pain anywhere, no shortness of breath, my bodily functions are normal and my blood work has always been stellar. So I agree that until you have a reason to...

      more

      I have never had any scans and my oncologist has told me there is no evidence that the cancer is anywhere else in my body. I have no pain anywhere, no shortness of breath, my bodily functions are normal and my blood work has always been stellar. So I agree that until you have a reason to suspect something, then no reason to stress yourself out. AS Sharon said, lean on your doctors. If you trust them, then believe their opinions.

      Comment
    • Life is Good! Profile
      anonymous
      Survivor since 2003

      Same with me... But, you know your body so communicate any changes and unusual pain you have. My oncologist ordered tests as needed for symptoms and relieved my concerns. Congrats on completing chemo! You endured a lot! Go live life to the fullest! God bless you!

      Comment

Educational Video

Personal Story

Related Topics

Looking for another topic?
Use the search box in the top right.

Footer 3

Breast cancer affects one out of every eight women in their lifetime.

spread the word