Diagnosis Of Breast Cancer
Diagnosis is the process of finding out the cause of a health problem. Diagnosing breast cancer usually begins when you find a lump in your breast or a screening mammography suggests a problem with the breast. Your doctor will ask you about any symptoms you have and do a physical exam. Based on this information, your doctor may refer you to a specialist or order tests to check for breast cancer or other health problems.
The process of diagnosis may seem long and frustrating. Its normal to worry, but try to remember that other health conditions can cause similar symptoms as breast cancer. Its important for the healthcare team to rule out other reasons for a health problem before making a diagnosis of breast cancer.
The following tests are usually used to rule out or diagnose breast cancer. Many of the same tests used to diagnose cancer are used to find out the stage . Your doctor may also order other tests to check your general health and to help plan your treatment.
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Consider the following benefits of choosing Envision Imaging for your imaging needs.
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From the minute you contact us until you walk out of one of our offices, you can rest assured your health and quality of life are our top priorities.
Regardless of which type of imaging test you need, you can expect accurate results with our high-quality scans. If youre looking for more information on the services we offer, were here to educate you on those as well.
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Who Is At High Risk For Breast Cancer
Being a woman and getting older are the main risk factors for breast cancer. Studies have shown that your risk for breast cancer is due to a combination of factors. The main factors that influence your risk include being a woman and getting older. Most breast cancers are found in women who are 50 years old or older.
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Metastatic Breast Cancer Scans
Diagnostic scans are performed to find out if you have MBC and to measure response to treatment or progression of metastatic tumors. No matter how many times you have been through a scan, there is often anxiety involved in either the process itself or waiting for results. This is normal.
The most typical scans are:
Bone scans reveal if cancer has spread to the bones. In most MBC cases, metastases first occur in the bones. These scans look at the bones for hot spots that may reveal cancer. To conduct a bone scan, your healthcare provider injects dye, then waits a few hours for it to move through the bloodstream so it can be visible in the scan.
A chest x-ray may reveal if breast cancer has spread to the lungs. Metastases in the lungs rarely cause pain, but they can cause shortness of breath or a cough that wont go away.
This scan provides a more-detailed x-ray of the body, usually in order to look for metastases in the brain, lungs and/or liver. Before the scan, you will either ingest a contrast dye and/or have it injected into a vein. The dye highlights specific areas of the body more clearly. A computer rotates around the body, creating a three-dimensional image.
A liver scan involves having a contrast dye injected into the vein. The dye will collect in areas where there is activity that could indicate cancer growth.
PET CT Scan
How Is A Mammogram Done
You will stand in front of a special X-ray machine. A technologist will place your breast on a plastic plate. Another plate will firmly press your breast from above. The plates will flatten the breast, holding it still while the X-ray is being taken. You will feel some pressure. The steps are repeated to make a side view of the breast. The other breast will be X-rayed in the same way. You will then wait while the technologist checks the four X-rays to make sure the pictures do not need to be re-done. Keep in mind that the technologist cannot tell you the results of your mammogram. Each womans mammogram may look a little different because all breasts are a little different.
Nuclear Medicine Scans For Cancer
Nuclear medicine scans generate images based on your body chemistry, instead of on physical forms and shapes, as with other imaging tests. The scans use liquid substances known as radionuclides, radiopharmaceuticals or tracers that release low radiation levels.
Body tissues affected by some diseases, like cancer, might absorb more or less of the tracer than normal tissues. Specific cameras pick the radioactivity pattern up to generate images that show the doctor where the tracer travels as well as where it collects.
The tumor might show up on the image as a hot spot if cancer is present. The hot spot is a spot of increased tracer uptake and cell activity. The tumor may also be a cold spot, depending on what type of scan the doctor performs. The cold spot is the area of less cell activity or decreased uptake.
The doctor will determine the type of nuclear scan youll receive, depending on which organ they wish to look into. Several common nuclear scans used for cancer include:
- PET scans
- Multigated acquisition scans
- Thyroid scans
Nuclear scans might not identify tiny tumors, and cant always indicate if a tumor is cancer.
Benefits of Nuclear Medicine Scans
Nuclear medicine scans help doctors identify tumors, and determine the extent the cancer has spread throughout your body. They also help doctors learn if a treatment is working. Theyre relatively painless tests typically performed on an outpatient basis.
Can You See Cancer On An X
Yes, X-rays can be used to help diagnose cancer and to determine the type of cancer.
Bone cancer, breast cancer and lung cancer are the most common forms of cancer diagnosed using an X-ray.
If someone has lung cancer, the X-ray will show a visible mass or nodule that will appear as a white spot on the lungs.
If an X-ray detects a tumor, the image will then be closely studied to reveal whether its malignant or benign.
If the tumor is benign, it will show up with a smooth border, while malignant tumors typically have a ragged border.
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How Do I Prepare
When you schedule your screening mammogram, you can make it for a day when you know your breasts will be less tender. Breasts are often tender during the week before your period. If you are going in for a diagnostic mammogram to check out a lump or other breast cancer symptoms, you may not be able to wait. Either way, you could consider taking an over-the-counter pain medication before your mammogram.
If you are going to a clinic that is new to you, either take your past copies of mammogram pictures with you or make sure that the clinic can access them in their system. Sometimes it is important to compare this years images to previous images. Your former clinic is required to give you copies and will often give them to you on a disc.
If the clinic does not have your past records or history, it is a good idea to write down any breast treatments, biopsies, or other procedures and take your list with you.
On the day of your mammogram, you should not wear deodorant or antiperspirant, lotion, or powder under your arms or on your breasts. These could create spots on your picture.
You might also want to wear a shirt and pants or skirt rather than a dress to make it easier for the doctor to examine your breasts without you needing to get undressed all the way.
Lactating Adenomas In Mammogram Images
Breast cancer is very uncommon in younger women. So, if a young woman who is pregnant came in for a screening of a palpable breast lump it is far more likely that the lesion is a fibroadenoma of some kind.
One common variation of fibroadenoma in pregnant women is a lactating adenoma, which is essentially a tubular adenoma that occurs in pregnant women. Lactating adenoma features the accumulation of milk secretions in addition to hyperplasia.
Breast X-rays are not normally given to pregnant women. Given that breast cancer is very unlikely and lactating adenoma is quite likely, ultrasound and possibly a fine needle aspiration biopsy would typically be utilized for diagnostic investigations.
The main concern with a lactating adenoma from the perspective of breast cancer is that the condition can occur simultaneously with breast cancer. However, on their own, they indicate no increase in the risk for subsequent breast cancer development.
In the ultrasound image of lactating adenoma below, one notes a hypoechoic, non-cystic mass in an ovoid shape. It has a long axis running parallel to the skin, posterior acoustic enhancement, and well-defined margins.
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What Can You Tell From An X
From fractures and infection to breast cancer, X-ray technology can bring light to many different health issues affecting various parts of the body.
Here is a full list of the problems an X-ray can help to diagnose:
Dental decay: To check for cavities, dentists regularly use X-rays to see details of both the teeth and jaw.
Arthritis: If you are suffering from symptoms similar to arthritis, your doctor may recommend taking an X-ray to properly diagnose you. It is also likely X-rays will be done regularly to see if the arthritis is getting worse.
Osteoporosis: In order to diagnose osteoporosis, bone density may be measured using a special type of X-ray.
Bone cancer: Bone tumors may be revealed using X-rays.
Fractures and infections: Your doctor may use an X-ray to see a fracture or infection in your bones or teeth.
Digestive tract issues: To see problems in the digestive system, you may be given a contrast medium to drink before your X-ray.
Swallowed items: If your child swallows something that has lodged itself in his or her body, the X-ray can help show the location.
Breast cancer: X-rays of the breast, called mammograms, examine breast tissue to reveal any signs of cancer that may exist.
Lung conditions: From pneumonia to cancer to tuberculosis, chest X-rays can be critical when diagnosing a condition of the lung.
Blocked blood vessels: If there is a change in the blood flow to the lungs and heart, it can be detected on an X-ray of the chest.
Positron Emission Tomography And Computed Tomography Scans
Doctors can combine PET scans with CT scans. However, your doctor may call this a PET scan. Its an effective imaging test for finding cancer and learning its stage. The cancers stage describes the location of cancer, if it spread and if its changing the function of your organs. When your doctor determines this, it helps them tailor the best treatment plan for you. They may even be able to predict your chances of recovery.
Benefits of a PET Scan
PET scans help doctors:
- Determine the proper place to perform a biopsy.
- Assess the cancer treatment, and find out if its working and how well.
- Plan radiation therapy.
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Final Diagnosis And Follow
All patients subsequently underwent sonography of the breast or mammography for the incidental breast lesions. Sonographically-guided core-needle biopsy or surgery was performed for definitive diagnosis in 20 patients. The diagnoses in the three remaining patients were determined on the basis of long-term follow-up CT or sonography for at least 12 months.
Should I Delay My Mammogram If I Had The Covid
It is important that all women pay attention to the timeline of their breast cancer screening and COVID-19 vaccine shots.
If you do not have breast-related symptoms and are scheduled for a screening mammogram soon after you receive a COVID-19 vaccine, you may want to consider changing your appointment until four to six weeks after your second vaccine shot. This will avoid any possible related follow-up imaging tests if you have swollen lymph nodes after getting the vaccine.
If you do not want to reschedule your mammogram, you can keep your appointment. We will document the date and location on your body that you had the vaccine. There is a good chance side effects of the vaccine wont interfere with your mammogram in any way. In the small chance that the radiologist does see swollen lymph nodes on your screening mammogram, you may be called back for additional imaging , either shortly after, or up to a few weeks later to confirm the swelling has gone away.
Do not delay your mammogram without speaking to your doctor first. And do not delay a diagnostic mammogram .
Regular cancer screenings can find cancer early, when it is easier to treat. It is very important to make and keep your regular health or cancer screening appointmentseven during the pandemic.
Read Also: Risk Factors For Metastatic Breast Cancer
Breast Magnetic Resonance Imaging
A breast MRI is a diagnostic exam, which your doctor may advise you to get after a mammogram. It captures multiple breast tissue images using magnetic fields. The machine combines the images to generate detailed, computer-generated pictures of the tissue inside your breasts.
Benefits of a Breast MRI
A breast MRI can help doctors:
- Screen women at high risk for breast cancer.
- Diagnose and assess breast tumors. It does a better job of identifying a small mass in a womans breast than an ultrasound or mammogram can, especially if you have non-fatty, dense breast tissue.
- Learn more about cancer identified by feeling a breast but not seen on an ultrasound or mammogram.
- Determine the size of a tumor and how much it spread following a breast cancer diagnosis .
- Monitor the effectiveness of chemotherapy for treating cancer.
- Assess the area where the doctor removed cancerous breast tissue as part of follow-up care.
- Learn if your breast implants ruptured.
Mammogram And Ultrasound Images Explained
A mammogram is a routine part of a breast cancer screening program.
Physicians agree that breast palpation programs are generally insufficient for early breast cancer detection.
Breast self-examination programs are also unreliable as a lesion can develop for years before it becomes palpable.
Of course, when a family physician finds a bump or a lump of some kind on a clinical exam, he/she will immediately refer the patient for a mammogram. Women with higher than average risk factors and older women should generally have mammograms more frequently.
Normally, the X-ray component of a mammogram is all that is necessary for breast cancer screening purposes.
So, an ultrasound is typically a second look type of application. However, it is not a good idea to have an ultrasound instead of a mammogram and it is probably best to follow the advice of the screening physicians.
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What Are The Limitations Of Mammography
While mammography is the best screening tool for breast cancer available today, mammograms do not detect all breast cancers. This is called a false negative result. On the other hand, when a mammogram looks abnormal and no cancer is present, this is called a false-positive result.
Screening mammographic images themselves are often not enough to determine the existence of a benign or malignant disease with certainty. If there are abnormalities, your radiologist may recommend further diagnostic studies.
It is very important to realize that not all breast cancers can be seen on mammography. Interpretations of mammograms can be difficult because a normal breast looks different for each woman. Also, the appearance of an image may be compromised if there is powder or salve on the breasts or if you have undergone breast surgery. Because some breast cancers are hard to visualize, a radiologist may want to compare the image to views from previous examinations.
Increased breast density has attracted attention from a number of state legislatures and more recently the federal government for multiple reasons, including:
- Increased breast density makes it difficult to see a cancer on mammography.
- Increased breast density may increase the risk of getting breast cancer.
The radiologist reading your mammogram determines your breast density and reports it to your doctor. Some states also require the facility to notify you if you have dense breasts.
Stage Of Breast Cancer
When breast cancer is diagnosed, your doctors will give it a stage. The stage describes the size of the cancer and how far it has spread, and is used to predict the outlook.
Ductal carcinoma in situ is sometimes described as stage 0. Other stages of breast cancer describe invasive breast cancer and include:
- stage 1 the tumour measures less than 2cm and the lymph nodes in the armpit are not affected. There are no signs that the cancer has spread elsewhere in the body
- stage 2 the tumour measures 2 to 5cm, the lymph nodes in the armpit are affected, or both. There are no signs that the cancer has spread elsewhere in the body
- stage 3 the tumour measures 2 to 5cm and may be attached to structures in the breast, such as skin or surrounding tissues, and the lymph nodes in the armpit are affected. There are no signs that the cancer has spread elsewhere in the body
- stage 4 the tumour is of any size and the cancer has spread to other parts of the body
This is a simplified guide. Each stage is divided into further categories: A, B and C. If you’re not sure what stage you have, talk to your doctor.
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