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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

  • Sharon Danielson Profile

    Prayers today... off to the oncologist for my yearly MRI, blood draining, and check up. Love to all, Sharon

    Asked by anonymous

    Survivor since 2007
    almost 7 years 29 answers
    • View all 29 answers
    • Roxann C Profile
      anonymous
      Stage 1 Patient

      Heavely Father protect our Sharon from any disease and keep her body pure.

      Comment
    • Lisa Doheny Profile
      anonymous
      Stage 2B Patient

      Good luck today & prayers to you

      Comment
  • Thumb avatar default

    I just had an abnormal mammogram but I dont need to be tested for 6 months,is this common?

    Asked by anonymous

    Learning About Breast Cancer
    over 7 years 5 answers
    • View all 5 answers
    • Sharon Danielson Profile
      anonymous
      Survivor since 2007

      This is a very common practice and most times there is nothing wrong.... it turns out to be benign. If you are worried about this ask to have an ultrasound. If that looks suspicious, INSIST on an MRI. There are a few of us out here who ended up with a diagnosis of breast cancer that was more...

      more

      This is a very common practice and most times there is nothing wrong.... it turns out to be benign. If you are worried about this ask to have an ultrasound. If that looks suspicious, INSIST on an MRI. There are a few of us out here who ended up with a diagnosis of breast cancer that was more advanced than we would have wanted. Be your own best advocate. Please keep us posted!

      1 comment
    • Diana Foster Payne Profile
      anonymous
      Stage 4 Patient

      Yes, as Sharon said this is common practice. Most of the time everything is ok. Just make sure you are comfortable with their answers. I was going every six months so they could "monitor" calcifications that were found for any changes. I found my lump 5 months after a clean mammogram. I ended up...

      more

      Yes, as Sharon said this is common practice. Most of the time everything is ok. Just make sure you are comfortable with their answers. I was going every six months so they could "monitor" calcifications that were found for any changes. I found my lump 5 months after a clean mammogram. I ended up having stage 3C breast cancer. And as Sharon can testify this happens more than we'd like to think. So...as you can imagine I was very angry & felt let down by my doctors who were supposed to be monitoring me. I'm not telling you this to scare you. I just want you to be aware of your body and if you're not comfortable with what's going on...ask for more tests or get a second opinion. You truly must be your own advocate!!!

      Comment
  • Linda Green Profile

    Is it unusual to have a variance in tumor measurement between ultrasound and MRI? Picked up MRI report this afternoon and noticed they measured tumor as 1.8 cm vice 1.2 cm. Of course, first thought was oh crap, did it grow that much in two weeks?

    Asked by anonymous

    Patient
    over 7 years 3 answers
    • Sharon Danielson Profile
      anonymous
      Survivor since 2007

      The MRI can pick up much more detail. Some malignant tumors aren't evenly shaped and maybe that would be where the discrepancy is showing up. Never be afraid to call the office that did the MRI and ask to speak to a doctor. It's their job to know the answers to those types of questions.

      Comment
    • Thumb avatar default
      anonymous
      Stage 1 Patient

      It is also because of the way that you are positioned in the MRI machine. If you were lying on your stomach for the MRI with your breasts hanging down through the MRI table it is going to change the shape of your breast therefore making the measurements different then when you were lying on your...

      more

      It is also because of the way that you are positioned in the MRI machine. If you were lying on your stomach for the MRI with your breasts hanging down through the MRI table it is going to change the shape of your breast therefore making the measurements different then when you were lying on your back for the ultrasound.

      Comment
  • Sadie Newlin Profile

    How do you find out if you have breast cancer? Because that runs in my family and I'm scared.

    Asked by anonymous

    Learning About Breast Cancer
    about 8 years 2 answers
    • Alice Eisele Profile
      anonymous
      Survivor since 2009

      Even if other women in your family have had breast cancer, it does not automaticly mean the BRAC gene is present. Discuss it with your doctor. Dilligence in having your yearly check-ups and also knowing your own body are two of the best things you can do. In additon educate yourself on the...

      more

      Even if other women in your family have had breast cancer, it does not automaticly mean the BRAC gene is present. Discuss it with your doctor. Dilligence in having your yearly check-ups and also knowing your own body are two of the best things you can do. In additon educate yourself on the signs of breast cancer. The educational material on this site is a great place to start.

      Just because it runs in your family doesn't always mean you will get it, and also some women who don't have a family history do get it. (as in my case)

      Just remember Knowledge is power.

      Comment
    • Sarah Adams Profile
      anonymous
      Survivor since 2010

      Knowledge IS power, so I suggest the BRCA gene mutation test. If the mutation is present, it drastically increases your risk. I had a prophylactic bilateral mastectomy

      2 comments

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