Diagnosis of Breast Cancer ~ Health Guide

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Diagnosis of Breast Cancer

Written by Mystic on Monday, August 04, 2008

If you or your doctor find a breast change, it will need to be investigated. Investigations may include a diagnostic mammogram, ultrasound, a biopsy or all of these tests.

An ultrasound uses high-frequency sound waves to scan your breasts. Ultrasound does not use radiation. The scanning is done by a radiographer, who moves a probe transducer [which looks like a microphone] across your breasts.

If you have a lump, you may require a biopsy. A fine needle aspiration is a biopsy performed by inserting a fine needle into the breast to withdraw some cells from the lump. These cells are then analysed in a laboratory under a microscope. It is a safe and relatively painless procedure.

If a surgical or open excision biopsy is necessary, the lump is removed under a general or local anaesthetic. The breast tissue will be examined by a histopathologist [a specialist in tissue examination].

The pathology report from the biopsy will give a definitive diagnosis and assist in determining the best treatment. If cancer is diagnosed, hormone blood tests are performed. They will show if the cancer cells have special markers (hormone receptors) on them. The presence of these receptors will indicate whether the cancer is likely to respond to hormone treatment.

Other investigations may also be necessary to determine the extent of the disease.

Most women usually prefer to discuss the treatment options after all the investigations and test results are known. A lot of consideration and support needs to be given to addressing emotional, family and work issues. A short delay between diagnosis and treatment does not affect the chances of successful treatment.

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