The appearance of the signs and symptoms of breast cancer demands immediate medical attention as an early detection and diagnosis of the malignancy can lead to effective and speedy treatment and cure. An unusual lump in the breast detected on self examination, changes in the size, shape and appearance of the nipples or the breast or the development of a little knot in the underarms , should be brought to the attention of the general physician.
After a preliminary examination, the patient may be advised to visit a specialized breast cancer center or clinic for further assessment and examination. Some of the symptoms of breast cancer require an immediate testing and the same should be undertaken without any procrastination or unnecessary delay. There are a number of methods and testing procedures that help in the early detection and diagnosis of cancerous growth in the breasts. Some of the ways for the detection of breast cancer are as follows:
Ways for the Detection of Breast Cancer
Detection by Breast Ultrasound and Mammogram
The GP may advise a mammogram or an ultrasound of the breast to detect the symptoms of breast cancer. A mammogram is generally done to develop an X-Ray of the breast and the region surrounding the same. Mammograms are usually not performed on women who are under 35 years of age, as they possess denser breasts and it requires an ultrasound to detect the internal environment of the same.
There may be an additional requirement of an ultrasound scan to confirm the findings of the mammogram in elder women. High frequency sound waves are utilized for producing images of the internal portions of the breast in ultrasound scans and this test is quite effective in tracing any abnormalities, cysts or lumpy formations in the breasts.
Certain breast cancer screening programs are conducted by governmental organizations and other medical institutions. If the detection of breast cancer in the patient has been done in one of these screening programs, then the doctors may require a separate mammogram or ultrasound test to confirm the same.
Detection by Biopsy
A small sample of the tissue cells from the breasts is taken and sent for biopsy. The procedure involves laboratory based examination of the breast tissue for the presence of cancerous cells or malignancy. In certain cases a scan and needle test may be performed in the region of the armpit or maxilla, to detect the presence of cancerous growth. The different methods of biopsy are used by the doctor according to the condition of the symptoms of breast cancer in the patient.
Some Of The Ways Of Conducting A Biopsy For The Detection Of Breast Cancer Are As Follows
The procedure of needle aspiration is used to test the presence of cancerous cells in the breasts, by taking out a sample of the cells from the affected area with a small needle. This method does not require the removal of any tissues from the breast. The technique of needle aspiration is also used to drain out the fluids from a benign cyst in the breasts or the lymph nodes.
This is one of the most common types of biopsy used for the detection of breast cancer. A large needle is used to extract a sample of the tissues from the lump that may be formed in the breast. The process is carried out under the influence of local anesthesia. In certain cases, a guided needle biopsy is conducted to get a more precise and accurate insight, which helps in a better diagnosis of breast cancer.
In a guided needle biopsy, the needle used for extraction of the breast tissue is guided by an X-Ray, MRI or Ultrasound. Once the detection of breast cancer is more or less complete, further tests are conducted to detect the current stage of breast cancer and work out the treatment modes for the same. Some of the advanced tests that are carried out for the purpose are as follows:
Detection of the Current Stage of Breast Cancer
CT Scans, Ultrasound and X-Rays
Computerized Tomography (CT) scans, ultrasound scans, or chest X-Rays are normally conducted to check the infiltration of the cancerous cells into the adjoining regions of the lungs and the liver. An MRI scan is also conducted to make an assessment of the spread and extent of the disease in the breasts.
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If the breast cancer is of an invasive nature, then the doctors may suggest a bone scan of the adjoining areas, where in an isotope is injected into one of the veins in the arm. The substance containing a small amount of radiation will then be observed through a special cancer to detect the infiltration of breast cancer in the bones.
Once the general detection of breast cancer and the stage it is in is over, further testing is done to confirm the exact nature of the disease and find out the specific treatment that can help in the treatment of the same. This provides a total and clear picture about the type of breast cancer that is prevalent in the patient and completes the process of diagnosis. Some of the important tests conducted for the detection of the abovementioned issues are as follows:
Tests for the Complete Diagnosis of Breast Cancer
Hormone Receptor Test
The growth of cancerous cells in the breasts can often be stimulated or influenced by the presence of the hormones such as estrogen and progesterone. The levels of these hormones are regulated through hormone therapy, by stopping or reducing their effect and production.
The hormone receptor test is conducted on a sample of the cancerous cells taken from the affected area. If the test produces a positive response to the influence of progesterone and estrogen, then the hormone therapy will be used for the treatment of the disease. This provides a complete picture regarding the detection of the breast cancer in the patient.
In certain patients, the growth of the breast cancer can be influenced and stimulated by a specific protein called human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2). After the detection of the influence of this protein on the development of malignancy in the breast cancer patient, specific drugs are administered by the doctor to block and negate the effect of HER2. The therapy that follows is called targeted or biological therapy.
It is important to complete a proper diagnosis of the type, stage and treatment process of the cancerous cells in the breast, to get a complete picture after the symptoms of breast cancer appear in the patient.
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