Our Austin obgyns explain the tools and procedures involved in breast cancer diagnosis
For many women, breast cancer diagnosis begins with a routine exam or screening. Even if a woman has no symptoms, our Austin obgyns may find a lump or breast change during a clinical breast exam. Or, there may be a finding on a woman’s routine mammogram that will cause suspicion that cancer may be present and require further investigation.
Since many women won’t have symptoms of breast cancer in the early stages, we encourage our patients to take advantage of all the tools that help us with breast cancer diagnosis and detection, including breast awareness, clinical breast examinations and screening mammography.
Imaging tests are an important tool in breast cancer diagnosis
Our Austin obgyns, in conjunction with the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, recommend that all women age 40 and over receive an annual mammogram. Screening mammograms allow the radiologist to examine breast tissue for abnormalities. Other imaging tests are used for breast cancer diagnosis.
- Diagnostic mammograms are used when a screening mammogram finds a potential problem. It looks more closely at the problem area of the breast.
- Breast ultrasound is especially useful in detecting whether a mass is a tumor or a cyst.
- MRI of the breast produces very detailed cross-section views of the breast and is used to screen the highest risk women.
If imaging tests or a physical exam find signs of breast cancer, biopsies are performed to confirm whether or not cancer is present
Biopsies are an important component of breast cancer diagnosis, performed to obtain cells from the lump or mass that may be cancerous so they can be sent to a lab for analysis.
Our Austin obgyns will discuss the type of biopsy that is best for you, basing it on several factors, including the size and location of the tumor. Two of the most commonly performed types of biopsies used for breast cancer diagnosis include:
- Fine needle aspiration biopsies. During this procedure, the physician will insert a thin, fine needle directly into the area with the suspicious lump or tumor and draw out some tissue. The physician may use ultrasound technology to guide the needle to the correct location.
- Stereotactic biopsies. This procedure also uses a fine needle to aspirate or withdraw tissue from the breast, but during this test, the physician will use computer-guidance to locate the mass. The computer uses mammogram images of the breast taken from two angles to find the exact place where the physician needs to place the needle. This test is particularly helpful for early-stage breast cancer diagnosis.
After the biopsy, the tissue is analyzed in the lab, and if it is determined that you have cancer, our Austin obgyns will immediately refer you to the appropriate specialist to begin your treatment planning.
Our Austin obgyns and staff will provide you with compassionate care throughout your breast cancer diagnosis and treatment
Our Austin obgyns and our staff have many years of experience helping women with breast cancer, and you can rely on us during this difficult time. Contact us to learn more.