When speaking to your doctor, they will ask you about your symptoms and risk factors. Then the doctor will perform a physical exam. The exam includes both breasts, armpits and the neck and chest area.
Tests used to diagnose and monitor patients with breast cancer may include:
- Mammogram to screen for breast cancer or help identify the breast lump
- Breast MRI to help better identify the breast lump or evaluate an abnormal change on a mammogram
- Breast ultrasound to show whether the lump is solid or fluid-filled
- Breast biopsy to check if the cancer has spread
If your doctor learns that you do have breast cancer, more tests will be done. This is to check if the cancer has spread, it also gives you an idea of what to expect in the future.
Diagnostic vs Screening Mammograms
For women with no signs or symptoms of the disease, a screening mammogram involves two X-ray pictures, or images, of each breast. The X-ray images make it possible to detect tumors that cannot be felt. Screening mammograms can also find microcalcifications (tiny deposits of calcium) that sometimes indicate the presence of breast cancer. Early detection of breast cancer with screening mammography means that treatment can be started earlier in the course of the disease, possibly before it has spread.
Diagnostic mammography takes longer than screening mammography because more x-rays are needed to obtain views of the breast from several angles. The technician may magnify a suspicious area to produce a detailed picture that can help the doctor make an accurate diagnosis.
Texas Health Mobile Health Unit
Detection is the key to prevention, but no one wants to take time out of his or her schedule for medical testing. The Texas Health Wellness for LifeSM Mobile Health Program makes it easy with our mobile health screening unit. This program brings screening and early detection services directly to your workplace with a maximum examination time of 20 minutes. For more information or to schedule the Mobile Health Program for your business or location, call 817-820-4910.
Some content was adapted from the National Institute for Cancer and A.D.A.M. Health Encyclopedia.