Breast Cancer Diagnosis

For one to hear a Breast Cancer Diagnosis of is overwhelmingly devastating. The many breast cancer symptoms may not suggest the very existence of the disease but should warrant a medical warning in an individual to consult a physician. Breast cancer, during its early stages, may be silent and not show any signs of breast cancer. Women are then advised to undergo breast cancer screening when they reach the age 40 and above. Breast cancer screening will help show small changes in the breast even before signs and symptoms of breast cancer start to show and compasison of previous images helps with breast cancer diagnosis.

Breast Cancer Diagnosis is best screened by mammography. Mammography is a procedure wherein the breasts are being picture by an X-ray machine. A mammogram takes only a few minutes and utilizes a small dose of ionizing radiation thus is not a health risk. During the examination, the breast is being compressed between a plastic plate and an X-ray cassette with a special x-ray film. Both mediolateral oblique and craniocaudal projections are taken as part of the routine screening. These views should include breast tissue from the nipples to the pectoral muscles. In the United Kingdom, the NHS advise women from age 50 to 70 to undergo breast cancer screening. It was found that an early diagnosis has saved thousands of potential breast cancer patients.

An example of a mammogram of a breast cancer patient, the cancer lump clearly visible on the right.

Breast cancer screening is very useful in determining the possibility of a developing breast cancer. However, further testing must be performed to confirm a breast cancer diagnosis. In a clinical setting, Breast Cancer Diagnosis includes a “triple test” for a good degree of accuracy. These include the first step, which is a clinical examination by a medical practitioner, a mammogram and fine needle aspiration cytology. Clinical breast examination and mammography are screening tests, which determine the presence of a lump or lesion, indicating a likelihood of cancer. Fine Needle Aspiration Cytology or FNAC involves an extraction of a small portion of fluid from the lump. This may be done in a GP’s office using a local anaesthetic agent. This fluid is sent to the laboratory for inspection of cancerous cells under a microscope. Another more common option for breast cancer diagnosis is biopsy. There are two types of biopsy:

a.    Core Biopsy – core biopsy involves excision of a section of the breast lump for examination

b.    Excisional Biopsy – Excisional biopsy involves the removal of the entire lump from the breast.

Discovery of a lump in either breast is a warning sign and should be heeded. It is advised to consult with a medical practitioner, to discuss the existence of breast cancer and to pursue further testing that will rule out or confirm the existence of breast cancer during Breast Cancer Diagnosis.