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Think Pink In October: Diagnosing Breast Cancer

by Chantel DaCosta Oct 4, 2021

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There are a number of tests and procedures that your doctor may use to diagnose breast cancer.

Breast exam: To check for any lumps or abnormalities, your doctor will palpate (feel) both of your breasts and lymph nodes in the armpit.

Mammogram: A screening mammogram takes an x-ray of your breast to look for any abnormalities or changes in your breasts. If anything looks suspicious, your doctor may recommend a diagnostic mammogram to take a closer look at the abnormality.

Ultrasound: In an ultrasound, sound waves produce images of structures deep within the body. A breast ultrasound may help distinguish between a solid mass and a fluid-filled cyst.

Biopsy: In a biopsy, a tissue sample is taken from your breast and sent to a lab for analysis. The lab will determine the type of cells involved in the breast cancer, the aggressiveness of the cancer, and whether the cancer cells have receptors that may influence your treatment options.

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI): An MRI uses a magnet and radio waves to create pictures of the interior of your breast.

Your doctor may request other tests or procedures if needed.

For more information on breast cancer risk factors, diagnostic procedure and whether you’re in a higher-risk group for breast cancer, please call your healthcare provider and/or the local cancer society.

Sources: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Everyday Health, American Cancer Society, International Journal for Equity in Health.