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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

    My mammogram showed a dense breast. What does that mean?

    Asked by anonymous

    Learning About Breast Cancer
    almost 8 years 1 answer
    • Tina Ureten Profile
      anonymous
      Learning About Breast Cancer

      That means you need other diagnostic tests because mammogram does not show the cancer lesion when the breast is dense. Your next tesh should be ultrasound because it is safe, does not use radiation and not costly.
      The best quality of whole breast ultrasound is obtained by automated breast...

      more

      That means you need other diagnostic tests because mammogram does not show the cancer lesion when the breast is dense. Your next tesh should be ultrasound because it is safe, does not use radiation and not costly.
      The best quality of whole breast ultrasound is obtained by automated breast ultrasound (ABUS). You can get more information about the superiority of ABUS to mammogram by visiting the web site below
      www.vipbreastimaging.com

      2 comments
  • claira maxwell Profile

    I recently found a hard lump on the side of my breast. I am making an appointment to the doctor soon I just am so afraid. I'm only 19 and I don't know what to expect. What questions I should ask my doctor?

    Asked by anonymous

    Learning About Breast Cancer
    over 7 years 6 answers
    • View all 6 answers
    • Sharon Danielson Profile
      anonymous
      Survivor since 2007

      For your own peace of mind, go in and have this checked as soon as you can. Your doctor may send you for a mammogram and possibly an ultrasound. All of this will scare the socks off of you but remember, your doctor just wants to do the best for you and MOST OF THESE LUMPS AND BUMPS AREN'T...

      more

      For your own peace of mind, go in and have this checked as soon as you can. Your doctor may send you for a mammogram and possibly an ultrasound. All of this will scare the socks off of you but remember, your doctor just wants to do the best for you and MOST OF THESE LUMPS AND BUMPS AREN'T CANCER!

      If you do have breast cancer in your family, it is even more important to get these checked out. I am really glad to hear you are checking your breasts at an early age. If you "google" BSE or breast self exams, you will learn the proper way to accomplish this. You can also ask your doctor to instruct you. Call your doctor today and let us know how you are doing.

      Comment
    • Diana Foster Payne Profile
      anonymous
      Stage 4 Patient

      Hi Claira, great advice from Sharon & Dawn. Most lumps are benign but you always want to get them checked out ASAP. Never take that chance. I might add one more thing. Some old school doctors are still under the assumption that young women aren't at risk for breast cancer. Thats not true!!...

      more

      Hi Claira, great advice from Sharon & Dawn. Most lumps are benign but you always want to get them checked out ASAP. Never take that chance. I might add one more thing. Some old school doctors are still under the assumption that young women aren't at risk for breast cancer. Thats not true!! Hopefully you won't encounter one like that. Unfortunately young women can & do get breast cancer. I'll be sending positive vibes your way. Best wishes Claira.

      Comment
  • Alice Klobukowski Profile

    What is a dense breast?

    Asked by anonymous

    Stage 2A Patient
    over 7 years 2 answers
    • Diana Foster Payne Profile
      anonymous
      Stage 4 Patient

      Are you asking if anyone has dense breasts? I'm not sure I understand the question?

      Comment
    • Alice Klobukowski Profile
      anonymous
      Stage 2A Patient

      I goofed up here and don't know how to erase/delete this error. I wrote another post concerning the fact that I never understood that having dense breasts is a factor in the increased risk of developing an aggressive tumor, which I did.

      2 comments
  • Thumb avatar default

    I have a lump and in getting sent to a specialist but appointment is 2 months away. Should I get a second look by another doctor?

    Asked by anonymous

    Learning About Breast Cancer
    over 7 years 9 answers
    • View all 9 answers
    • kim sosa Profile
      anonymous
      Learning About Breast Cancer

      I would call and demand to be seen as soon as possible because alot can happen in two months. Take care kim

      Comment
    • vicki e Profile
      anonymous
      Stage 2B Patient

      You should consider getting a different doctor or going to another city. Two months is outrageous, not to mention how hard it will be on you mentally to have to wait that long. Good luck.

      Comment

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