Contributed by: Anjali Sharma


Did you know, according to statistics, more than 2 lakh women in India were expected to be diagnosed with breast cancer, and more than 76,000 deaths were expected?

Breast tissue contains aberrant cells that begin to form and proliferate uncontrollably to develop breast cancer. Because the prognosis depends on the size and stage of the malignancy, an early detection is essential.

Even if you don’t start getting regular mammograms, you should learn about your breasts so you can spot any changes and report them to your doctor.

According to Johns Hopkins Medical Center breast cancer research, at least 40% of breast cancers are initially discovered by women who feel a lump during a self-exam.

Various diagnostic methods help in the diagnosis and early detection of breast cancer.

Imaging tests for breast cancer

Imaging studies examine breast tissue using different equipment or technologies. There are several imaging tests.

A mammogram is recommended for women over age 45 every year, although screening can begin as early as age 40.

An X-ray called a mammogram captures only images of the breast—these images help medical professionals find breast abnormalities, such as lumps that could be cancerous.

Note that though you may need further testing if your Mammography Revealing an anomaly, breast cancer is not always the cause.

An ultrasound exam uses sound waves to create pictures of the inside of your body. If your mammogram shows a mass, your doctor may ask for an ultrasound.

If you have breast lumps that are clearly visible, your doctor may also recommend an ultrasound. An ultrasound can help determine whether a lump or tumor is solid or fluid-filled. A benign cyst that is not malignant is often seen as a fluid-filled mass. Although this is not always the case.

Depending on how the ultrasound image appears, certain tumors may be a mixture of liquid and solid, which are usually benign but may require immediate follow-up imaging or a biopsy.

Biopsy for breast cancer

To determine whether a lump or growth is malignant or benign, a tissue sample is removed in a biopsy. Usually, this is an outpatient surgery.

Depending on the size and location of the tumor, a breast biopsy can be done in several ways. An operation or needle biopsy may be performed by a surgeon or radiologist if the tumor is small and not suspicious.

The doctor surgically takes a sample of tissue from your breast. Depending on your doctor’s advice, you may choose to perform this with or without imaging guidance.

In some cases, a surgical biopsy may be necessary. It removes all or specific parts of the lump. The surgeon may also remove any enlarged lymph nodes.

Types of biopsy

Biopsy with a fine-needle aspirator

When the lump is solid, this form of biopsy is used. A small bit of tissue is removed by the doctor using a fine needle for pathology analysis. When a cyst is detected, the doctor may want to check it for malignancy.

Core needle biopsy

During this procedure, a sample of tissue up to the size of a pen is removed using a large needle and tube. Feel, ultrasound or mammography are used to guide the needle. A mammography-guided biopsy will be done if a woman has a finding that can only be detected by a mammogram. Another name for this procedure is a stereotactic breast biopsy.

Surgical biopsy

In this type of biopsy, the mass is removed completely (lumpectomy), partially removed (incisional biopsy), or not at all (excisional biopsy, wide local excision). Before surgery, the surgeon may use a technique called wire localization to chart a path to the tumor if it is small or difficult to find by touch. A mammogram or ultrasound guide can be used to implant a wire.

Test for sentinel nodes

A biopsy from a lymph node, where the cancer is most likely to have spread first. For breast cancer, a sentinel node biopsy is often performed on lymph nodes in the axilla or armpit area.

This test is done to detect if cancer is present in the lymph nodes on the cancerous side of the breast.

Image-guided biopsy

Using imaging methods such as ultrasound, mammography, or MRI, a doctor can create a real-time image of an area of ​​concern that is difficult to locate or feel through your skin for an image-guided biopsy. This image will be used by your doctor to mark the ideal area for a needle.

Breast cancer stage-specific testing

The next step after receiving a breast cancer diagnosis is to determine your stage. Your doctor chooses the appropriate course of therapy based on the stage. The tumor’s size, location, and whether it has spread beyond your breast to nearby lymph nodes and other organs all affect the stage. After receiving a breast cancer diagnosis, the next step in staging is to know the rate of growth and the staging factor is the probability of the growth rate at which the growth will spread.

To help determine the severity and diagnosis of the cancer, your doctor may order any of the tests listed below.

Bone scan

Bones can be affected by breast cancer. Using a radionuclide tracer, a bone scan enables your doctor to examine your bones for signs of abnormalities.

CT scan

Another X-ray that uses iodine contrast to get precise pictures of your organs is a CT scan. To determine if the cancer has progressed to an organ other than the breast, such as the chest, lungs, or abdominal region, your doctor may use a CT scan.

MR. Eye scan

This imaging technique, although not often used for cancer screening, is useful for staging breast cancer.

Digital images of different parts of the body are produced at a time MRI. This can help your doctor determine if the cancer has progressed to your brain, spine, or other organs.

PET scan

A PET scan is an abnormal test. A dye is injected into your vein by your doctor. A special camera creates 3-D photos of the inside of your body as dye passes through it. This helps your doctor detect cancer.

Genetic testing for breast cancer

Another risk factor for breast cancer is genetics. According to medical experts, heredity is believed to be a factor in 5% to 10% of breast cancer cases. Consult a genetic counselor and get genetic testing if you are concerned about your chances of developing breast cancer.

This test involves drawing blood, collecting saliva, or scraping the cheek. There are steps you can take to avoid breast cancer if you determine you are at high risk.

You can get regular and early breast cancer screenings, change your drinking and exercise habits, have a mastectomy as preventative surgery, and more.

last thought

If your mammogram or clinical exam reveals an abnormality, follow up with additional diagnostic testing. Although breast cancer is curable, it can be incurable if it is not found early enough.

For more information about annual screening, talk to your doctor, especially if you have a personal or family history of breast cancer.

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