Early diagnosis is key to survival.
Getting a breast cancer diagnosis can feel like you are in alternate reality. You see your doctor’s lips moving, but you cannot hear what she is saying. Maybe a mistake was made in the diagnosing. Let us explore how breast cancer is diagnosed.
The initial step is a response due to finding a lump or tumor in the breast at home. Or if the breast appears abnormal could be a symptom as well. The doctor then employs several tests to help find the mass.
• Breast Exam- the doctor will feel both breasts and the lymph nodes in your armpit for lumps and anomalies.
• Mammogram- this is a test to screen for breast cancer which is a detailed x-ray.
• Breast Sonogram- Is not normally used. This test is done on women with dense breasts. The breast tissue is such that it may
mask a tumor by making it difficult to see on a mammogram
• Breast Magnetic Response Imaging (MRI)- This test allows the scan to show the inside of the breast
• Biopsy- which is the sole definitive way to diagnose cancer. There are three biopsy types
◦ Fine Needle Aspiration- a thin, hollow needle is inserted into the abnormal mass. Cells are suctioned up to be evaluated under a microscope by a pathologist
◦ Core Biopsy- This method is much like the fine needle aspiration, but removes more abnormal breast tissue to be examined
◦ Open Biopsy- Can be performed at a physician’s office or hospital. A surgical incision is made through the skin to expose the entire abnormal mass. A section of the tissue is biopsied to be examined
As per UCSF Department of Radiology & Biomedical Imaging
• Pre-Procedure Information:
◦ You may eat on the day of the test. Medications may be taken with a sip of water.
◦ Wash your breasts and underarms thoroughly with soap and water. Do not wear deodorant. ◦
◦ Wear or bring a tight-fitting brassiere (e.g., sports bra). The technologist will verify your identification and exam requested.
◦ There will be an opportunity for you to talk to the radiologist about the plan for the procedure and give your consent.
Stay Aware! Accept the Process!