The doctor will ask you about your symptoms and risk factors. Then the doctor will perform a physical exam, which includes both breasts, armpits, and the neck and chest area.
Tests used to diagnose and monitor patients with breast cancer may include:
- Breast MRI to help better identify the breast lump or evaluate an abnormal change on a mammogram.
- Breast ultrasound to show whether the lump is solid or fluid-filled.
- Breast biopsy,using methods such as needle aspiration, ultrasound-guided, stereotactic
- CT scan to see if the cancer has spread
- Mammography to screen for breast cancer or help identify the breast lump
- PET scan
- Sentinal lymph node biopsy to see if the cancer has spread
If your doctor learns that you do have breast cancer, more tests will be done to see if the cancer has spread. This is called staging. Staging helps guide future treatment and follow-up and gives you some idea of what to expect in the future.
Breast cancer stages range from 0 to IV. The higher the staging number, the more advanced the cancer. I & II stages are completely curable with minimum risk as this is the stage where we deal with just the malignant lump/tumor. Stage III is when the cancerous cells start spreading to the concerned organ of the body, while stage IV is when the cancer has already spread not only to the concerned organ but also to other parts of the body. Higher the stage of cancer, the more advanced treatment is required to treat.
The good news is, Breast Cancer is one type of cancer for which there is maximum survival rate of patients..