Diagnosing Breast Cancer
Read our blog, A Woman’s Role in Her Breast Cancer Care.
Breast cancer is often first suspected when a lump or change is found in the breast or when an abnormal area is seen on a mammogram.
Most of the time, these findings don’t turn out to be breast cancer. However, the only way to know for sure is to do follow-up tests.
This section describes how breast cancer is diagnosed and the factors that affect prognosis (chances for survival) and guide treatment.
Follow-up tests after an abnormal finding on a screening test
Sometimes, breast cancer can be ruled out with a follow-up mammogram (diagnostic mammogram), breast ultrasound or breast MRI.
Follow-Up After an Abnormal Finding on a Mammogram
Follow-Up After an Abnormal Finding on a Clinical Breast Exam
A biopsy removes cells or tissue from a suspicious area in the breast. The cells or tissue are studied under a microscope to see if cancer is present.
Fine Needle Aspiration (Fine Needle Biopsy)
Assessing Margins After a Surgical Biopsy
Preserving Breast Tissue Samples for Pathology
Questions You May Want to Ask Your Health Care Provider Before a Biopsy
The breast tissue removed during a biopsy is sent to a pathologist. The pathologist studies the tissue and prepares a report of the findings, including the diagnosis.
Contents of a Pathology Report
Understanding Your Pathology Report After Neoadjuvant Therapy
Questions You May Want to Ask Your Health Care Provider About Your Diagnosis
Factors that affect prognosis and treatment
Learning about the factors that affect prognosis (chances for survival) can help you understand your diagnosis and your treatment options.
Factors That Affect Prognosis and Treatment
Types of Tumors (how the cancer cells look under a microscope)
Hormone Receptor Status (estrogen and progesterone status)
Tumor Profiling Score:
Breast cancer stages and staging
Breast cancer stage describes the extent of the cancer within your body. It’s the main factor affecting prognosis.
Breast Cancer Stages and Staging
Tests for Metastases in People Newly Diagnosed with Breast Cancer
Molecular subtypes of breast cancer
Researchers are studying how molecular subtypes of breast cancer may be useful in planning treatment and developing new therapies.
Molecular Subtypes of Breast Cancer
Special types of invasive breast cancer and carcinoma in situ
Some special types of invasive breast cancer and carcinoma in situ are described in this section.
Emerging areas in breast cancer diagnosis
New tools are under study for use in breast cancer diagnosis. They may give information about tumors to help guide treatment.
Emerging Areas in Breast Cancer Diagnosis
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