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Diagnosis of Breast Cancer: Type of Tests You Have to Undergo

The fact that you find the signs of breast cancer in your body does not always indicate that you have the disease. The diagnosis for breast cancer is necessary to identify your condition and prognosis. In fact, the symptoms of breast cancer vary with individuals. Some patients show the symptoms like swelling of breast, pain, redness, skin irritation, and nipple discharge, while others do not show any symptoms at all. Therefore, if you suspect the symptoms, having a clinical breast exam is the best option.

In case that the clinical examination finds abnormal things, you may need to undergo further tests to find out what causes the irregularities. You may be referred to a surgeon or breast specialists, who are experienced in diagnosing the breast problems. Before doing further intervention, the doctor may do physical exam, namely checking lymph nodes in your armpit as well as both of your breast. Physical exam helps the doctor to identify any abnormalities.

How to Make The Diagnosis of Breast Cancer

Then, to make the diagnosis of breast cancer, you may need to take some tests, including the following.

ü   Diagnostic mammogram. This is the most common diagnostic tool for breast cancer. Being a more detailed X-ray of the breast, mammogram is used to detect the cancer earlier, as it may detect almost all (80 to 90 percent) the breast cancers, even before a lump is seen or felt by the patient. 

ü    Breast ultrasound. The diagnostic method is usually conducted after a mammogram, since the specific target of concerned has been identified. Then, the ultrasonic machine provides detailed pictures of breast problems. The detail picture is called sonogram. In addition, ultrasound helps in differentiating solid masses from cysts, and benign tumors from cancerous ones.

ü  Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI).  This technique involves scanning of the body by using a magnet, which is linked to a computer. MRI allows the doctors to see the more detailed pictures of the cancers inside the breast.

ü  Biopsy. As the cancer may affect very smooth tissues inside the breast, the biopsy helps in confirming diagnosis of the breast cancer. The process may include removing tissues or fluid from the cancerous areas. Then, they are put under a microscope for further testing. The biopsy may be conducted by using open technique, core biopsy, or fine-needle aspiration.

If done in a correct way, the diagnosis of breast cancer will provide the patient and the family with detailed information, such as stage of the cancer and the recommended treatment.  However, you may undergo another test to find out to what extent the cancer has affected your body. This is called staging, as the team of doctors will determine whether your cancer is at stage 0, 1, 2, 3, or 4. The stage of breast cancer determines the treatment that you need.

Breast cancer is a common problem; therefore, having annual breast exam is a recommended way to detect any signs of abnormalities at early stages. Make sure to consult your doctor on how to perform regular breast exam and check your own breast at home.

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