Breast cancer is one of the most prevalent types of cancers in women in the US today. Each year hundreds of thousands of women each year are diagnosed with the potentially deadly disease and seek treatment.
Breast cancer detection methods are standardized and utilized by medical professionals across the country.
Here is a list of the procedures used to determine if you have breast cancer.
Self-examination usually happens in a woman’s home. Women are told to check for lumps in their breasts nipple discharge or other unusual symptoms. If these symptoms remain over a short period of time to see a doctor to get testing.
In a doctor’s office, the doctor will utilize a manual examination and determine if the patient needs additional testing including take imaging tests to determine the type of mass in the breasts.
Imaging tests include screening mammography, diagnostic mammography, MRI, and Ultrasound tests. Each can show different aspects of the tissue in the breasts and give an indication if abnormal tissue might be a cancerous tumor. They are all used to help determine if the woman has breast cancer.
This process uses x-rays to screen women with no symptoms of breast cancer. These mammograms are given by a doctor during a check-up. Every woman is advised to get a mammogram with their annual check-ups.
This screening is similar to a screening mammography but it is performed when there is an indication that there is a lump in the breasts or other symptoms that might signal breast cancer. However diagnostic mammography includes more x-ray pictures of the area.
Magnetic Resonance Imaging is a process that uses magnetic fields, to create images of the body that are much more detailed than x-rays. The patient is given a special dye to ingest called a contrast medium that causes clearer pictures to be obtained. Doctors will create an MRO targeted at the breasts to get a close look at the tissue and check for cancerous tumors and if they have spread throughout and even beyond the breast.
This imaging technique uses sound waves to determine if there is abnormal tissue in the breasts. Ultrasounds can also help identify is the abnormal tissue is a tumor which tend to be solid or a cyst which is usually filled with liquid.
If the doctor suspects that breast cancer is a good possibility, he will seek to perform a biopsy. A biopsy is a surgical procedure where the doctor removes a small amount of the tumor tissue for examination under a microscope. There are several different types of biopsies that are performed depending on where the tumors are located and the type of information the doctor would like to gather. Although other types of tests can give an indication that the patient has breast cancer, the breast biopsy procedure is the only test that can confirm the diagnosis 100%. A pathologist analyzes the tissue sample in a laboratory where cells, are analyzed to diagnose disease.
If the biopsy comes back positive for breast cancer, the woman will meet with her doctor to determine options. Today medicine has a good rate of curing patients with breast cancer if it is detected early.