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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

  • Eileen  Cluesman Profile

    What does a normal mammogram look like?

    Asked by anonymous

    Learning About Breast Cancer
    over 8 years Answer
  • Thumb avatar default

    Do they ever perform a biopsy right after the first mammogram?

    Asked by anonymous

    Learning About Breast Cancer
    almost 8 years 7 answers
    • View all 7 answers
    • Mary Foti Profile
      anonymous
      Survivor since 2010

      If your doctor noticed an abnormality on your first or any mammogram, it is likely you will have an ultrasound or an MRI (or both) to get a better look at the area in question. If there is still concern then the next step is a biopsy as that is the only way to confirm exactly what the cause is....

      more

      If your doctor noticed an abnormality on your first or any mammogram, it is likely you will have an ultrasound or an MRI (or both) to get a better look at the area in question. If there is still concern then the next step is a biopsy as that is the only way to confirm exactly what the cause is. In many cases, it's benign.

      Comment
    • Sharon Danielson Profile
      anonymous
      Survivor since 2007

      If you mean.... same appointment with the mammogram.... I'm pretty sure it isn't unheard of. Usually the way it goes is mammogram, ultrasound, biopsy. As Mary says, they may include an MRI which would check for a larger area in the chest and lymph nodes. Take care, Sharon

      Comment
  • Thumb avatar default

    How many of you had to have a breast MRI and what was it like?

    Asked by anonymous

    Learning About Breast Cancer
    about 8 years 8 answers
    • View all 8 answers
    • Thumb avatar default
      anonymous
      Learning About Breast Cancer

      I had one after my cancer was found. It was about 45 mins long. You lay on your stomach and look like superman flying. Very loud. I still managed to fall asleep. 25 years sleeping with a snorer prepared me for it I guess

      Comment
    • Sharon Danielson Profile
      anonymous
      Survivor since 2007

      I just realized I didn't tell you what the MRI was like. IT IS NOISY. The MRI I had when they were first looking for breast cancer was different than what I have for my yearly exams. The thing about MRI's they keep improving them at the office I go to. The time it takes always gets less and...

      more

      I just realized I didn't tell you what the MRI was like. IT IS NOISY. The MRI I had when they were first looking for breast cancer was different than what I have for my yearly exams. The thing about MRI's they keep improving them at the office I go to. The time it takes always gets less and less. When I first started out 5 years ago, it took about 45 minutes to complete the test. In September, is only took about 17 minutes. The MRI I had when I was first diagnosed was different in that they put a frame over my chest. They place a line into a vein in your arm so at a point in the MRI, they inject a type of dye that is absorbed by the tumor. This is standard part of the exam every year. You basically just lie on your back, dressed in a hospital gown, on a table in a machine. They roll you into a large tube. It is noisy with different clanging and banging noise. Some people get claustrophobic but I am sure they can give you a sedative if you are nervous. If you have any questions, please let me know. I will be glad to answer anything I can. MRI's are such a great diagnostic tool for those of us who have dense breast tissue. I imagine it will get to be more routine and used in conjunction with mammograms for dense breasts. Take care, Sharon

      1 comment
  • Andrea Kay Profile

    How does someone become a recipient of a free mammogram?

    Asked by anonymous

    Learning About Breast Cancer
    over 7 years 3 answers
    • Sharon Danielson Profile
      anonymous
      Survivor since 2007

      Andrea,

      I was able to "google" and find the health department in a woman's small town for a free mammogram. Since this is Breast Cancer Awareness Month it should be relatively easy to find an organization that will fund the payment for a mammogram. You can check with the American Cancer...

      more

      Andrea,

      I was able to "google" and find the health department in a woman's small town for a free mammogram. Since this is Breast Cancer Awareness Month it should be relatively easy to find an organization that will fund the payment for a mammogram. You can check with the American Cancer Society, a Public Health Department in your city or county, Planned Parenthood, Susan G. Komen Org. I just googled FREE MAMMOGRAMS... this is what I came up with... there were many.
      Take care, Sharon
      http://voices.yahoo.com/where-free-mammogram-5009612.html?cat=5

      Comment
    • Traciann brundage Profile
      anonymous
      Learning About Breast Cancer

      My mom called her local hospital and told them what was going on with me and she had no insurance . She filled out a few forms and it was only 20 dollars for her .

      Comment

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