Breast cancer is a cancer that begins in the breast tissue. It is the most common cancer in women excluding skin cancer. Breast cancer survival has been increasing in recent years thanks to improvements in screening, detection and treatment. Patients often are seen in the office for evaluation because of concerns about their breasts. The one question they want answered is “Is this cancer?”
Breast complaints are evaluated with a careful history, physical examination and radiographic imaging as indicated. Sometimes a breast biopsy is needed to evaluate a mass that is found. Most breast biopsies done for masses return with a non-cancer diagnosis. Signs or symptoms that may be secondary to a breast cancer include a new mass in the breast, a change in the size or contour of the breast, new nipple inversion, bloody nipple discharge or skin thickening with redness. Any of these signs should prompt a visit to your doctor. Additional imaging studies may be ordered even if a recent mammogram has been done.
Most breast biopsies are performed with a small needle with image guidance using mammography or ultrasound. Most breast biopsies return with a non-cancer diagnosis. Often the biopsy is performed by the radiologist using local medication to make the area numb. Once the tissue has been removed, a pathologist then has to look at it to make the diagnosis.
A mammogram is an x-ray of the breast tissue. It is used to screen for breast cancer and to evaluate the breast in the case of a concerning clinical finding as listed above. Sometimes more than one set of mammograms is needed to completely evaluate the breast.
An ultrasound uses sound waves to develop a picture of tissues deeper in the body. It can be used to look in areas where a breast mass is suspected either from a physical examination or a mammogram.
An MRI uses magnetic imaging to look inside of the breast. This study requires an injection of dye into the veins.
Contact us today to learn more your options and how our leading-edge surgeons and staff can give you the best possible outcome.