Diagnosing Breast Cancer

Physicians advise women to have a mammography after their 40th birthday or sooner when necessary. Women with silicone breast implants are advised to have an MRI at regular intervals, designated by the plastic surgeon and gynecologist because mammography is less likely to offer detection due to the nature of silicone implants.    Following results, your physician will let you know how often you should return for a repeat mammography or MRI. If the results show positive for breast cancer, additional tests may be ordered to rule out a false positive or false negative and provide other potentially useful information. Here’s a quick rundown of diagnostic tests.

Mammogram: This is an x-ray of the breasts that may detect tumors that you might not be able to feel.  

Ultrasound, also known as Sonogram: If mammogram suggests suspicious changes, an ultrasound may be performed. This procedure involves the use of a wand that glides across the breasts to produce sound waves and echoes that create a picture of the breast tissue.

MRI, also known as Magnetic Resonance Imaging: In some cases, such as those in the high risk category and those that have silicone or saline breast implants, an MRI may be used to create a more detailed picture of the breast tissue with the use of magnet radio wave technology and a computer.  

Tissue Sampling: This is a relatively new method that some physicians feel can provide valuable information about breast cancer, offered in three techniques:   

Fine-Needle Aspiration involves the insertion of a slim needle into the breast tissue surrounding the areola which allows for the removal of cells and fluid that can be evaluated. 

Nipple Aspiration focuses on the use of gentle suction device that collects fluid through the nipple.  The fluid can be used for testing purposes.

Ductal Lavage uses a very tiny catheter that can be inserted into the nipple to release salt water into the breast duct and allows for the extraction of breast cells which can be further evaluated.  

It is important to recognize that medications and medical procedures are associated with benefits and risks that should be discussed with your physician. It is important to recognize that all information contained on this website cannot be considered to be specific medical diagnosis, medical treatment, or medical advice. As always, you should consult with a physician regarding any medical condition. Your Health Access disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.