Breast Cancer Testing Processes

If a lump is detected in one of your breasts during an annual mammogram, you may be referred to a specialist. Although the lump may be noncancerous, targeted testing will be critical in determining your prognosis.

A Surgeon Or Breast Specialist's Role

Your referral will be dependent upon the series of tests that your doctor orders. A surgeon or a specialist may use imaging tools, ultrasounds, and X-rays, to determine if cancerous cells are present. A nonmalignant lump may need to be removed, especially if it grows in size or if it is causing any discomfort.

Before any testing takes place, the medical practitioner who will be examining you may discuss your mammogram results and the types of procedures that they will use to perform a thorough inspection of the breast tissue. Many tests will be noninvasive and will not cause you any discomfort. Imaging and scans will provide a doctor with a look at the inside of your breast. An image or scan can detect a problem that cannot be seen by the naked eye.

Testing Processes

Many testing processes will require you to lie in a supine position. If you are going to receive an MRI, you will lay down, prior to being moved into the machine that will provide the imaging. Other tests that require the use of an ultrasound device or an X-ray scan may only require that you lay still while a scan or X-ray is conducted.

A biopsy is a medical test that involves the extraction of cells and tissue. A doctor will use a thin needle to collect the specimen that is going to be tested. The sample will come from the lump that was detected during your mammogram. The specimen will be looked at under a microscope. A diagnostic mammogram may also be performed. This type of mammogram is more detailed than a standard mammogram.

The Prognosis

Once the testing is complete, you will find out if the lump is cancerous or noncancerous. If the lump is malignant, a medical practitioner may check to see if the cancer cells have spread to other parts of your body. The amount of spreading will determine what cancer stage you have. Treatment options will be discussed with you during your consultation. If the lump is nonmalignant, the doctor will provide you with sound medical advice, concerning if the lump will need to be removed or not. 

To learn more about a breast cancer diagnosis, contact a local doctor.