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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

  • Sammy Love Profile

    Can you get breast cancer even though you don't have your period yet?

    Asked by anonymous

    Learning About Breast Cancer
    almost 7 years 3 answers
    • Thumb avatar default
      anonymous
      Learning About Breast Cancer

      Probably not!

      Comment
    • Sharon Danielson Profile
      anonymous
      Survivor since 2007

      Youngest girl in the U. S. was 10. I think it was last year... invasive ductal carcinoma.

      Surely there are much more fun things to be doing that hanging out on a breast cancer board. Be a kid, quit worrying about breast cancer. If you are concerned about something that is going on with...

      more

      Youngest girl in the U. S. was 10. I think it was last year... invasive ductal carcinoma.

      Surely there are much more fun things to be doing that hanging out on a breast cancer board. Be a kid, quit worrying about breast cancer. If you are concerned about something that is going on with your body, please talk to your mom. She wants to know if you have anything that worries you. Take care, Sharon

      Comment
  • sarah coleman Profile

    I am having pain in my left breast located at my nipple and the nipple is pulling in, should I be worried?

    Asked by anonymous

    Learning About Breast Cancer
    over 7 years 8 answers
    • View all 8 answers
    • Diana Foster Payne Profile
      anonymous
      Stage 4 Patient

      Sarah, I'll say a prayer for you. Please let us know how you are. There's a great group of caring ladies on here & we'll be here for you anytime!!!

      Comment
    • Diana Foster Payne Profile
      anonymous
      Stage 4 Patient

      Yes Sarah....please schedule a Dr. Appt ASAP!! I was also having pain in my right breast and my nipple was slightly inverted. Those can be symptoms of breast cancer. Don't put off going. Sharon is right. MRIs pick up on what mammograms miss. My mammogram missed seeing my cancer. I was diagnosed...

      more

      Yes Sarah....please schedule a Dr. Appt ASAP!! I was also having pain in my right breast and my nipple was slightly inverted. Those can be symptoms of breast cancer. Don't put off going. Sharon is right. MRIs pick up on what mammograms miss. My mammogram missed seeing my cancer. I was diagnosed with stage 3C invasive Ductal carcinoma. Please get checked & let us know how you are.

      Comment
  • Thumb avatar default

    Should a focal asymmetry always require an ultrasound? What is the risk percentage of it turning into cancer?

    Asked by anonymous

    Learning About Breast Cancer
    about 7 years 1 answer
    • Sharon Danielson Profile
      anonymous
      Survivor since 2007

      Who knows what clicks cells over from being normal to abnormal? When in doubt, I would fall on to the side of having an extra test to MAKE SURE, those cells haven't gone to "The Dark Side." I was misdiagnosed for 7 months because a doctor said I didn't meet the criteria for the extra testing. ...

      more

      Who knows what clicks cells over from being normal to abnormal? When in doubt, I would fall on to the side of having an extra test to MAKE SURE, those cells haven't gone to "The Dark Side." I was misdiagnosed for 7 months because a doctor said I didn't meet the criteria for the extra testing. If you do end up with breast cancer, you want to catch it as soon as possible. Take care, Sharon

      1 comment
  • T H Profile

    Hey girls- been a while since my last post. I had the holiday blues... But good news today went for my 1st breast exam since 1yr ago no new cancer !!

    Asked by anonymous

    Survivor since 2013
    over 5 years 9 answers
    • View all 9 answers
    • anonymous Profile
      anonymous
      Patient

      Awesome !! Congrats to you ! Great to hear good news

      Comment
    • Lou Cam Profile
      anonymous
      Survivor since 2013

      That is wonderful news! I have my first post treatment mammo coming up this month, and hope for such great news.

      1 comment

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