Before a doctor can give a breast cancer diagnosis there are several tests he can perform. Most breast examinations are performed through mammography, which is an x-ray of the breast. If there are abnormal findings as a result of a mammogram then further tests must be taken in order to determine if a breast cancer diagnosis is correct. Other basic tests can be performed such as a palpation exam in which the doctor carefully feels the lump and the tissues around it. Benign lumps, those that are not growing, often feel different than cancerous ones. An ultrasound may also be used, by using high frequency sound waves it can be determined if the lump is solid or filled with liquid. Biopsies can also be used to determine a breast cancer diagnosis. There are two commonly used types of biopsies that may be used. Your doctor may choose a needle biopsy in which a small amount of fluid or tissue is removed from the lump with a needle so that it may be tested for cancer cells in the laboratory. A surgical biopsy is another option. In this case a surgeon will cut out a part or all of the lump or suspicious area and have it checked by a pathologist under a microscope. Tests such as these are required for a breast cancer diagnosis.
If the doctor determines that no further treatment is necessary it is still important to have your doctor check regular for changes. If the doctor does give you a breast cancer diagnosis pathologists use special lab tests to determine the type of cancer. The tests help doctors determine more about the cancer. Hormone receptor tests check to see if the cancer is hormone sensitive, if hormones help the cancer grow. If this is the case hormonal therapy can be used to control the growth of the cancer. Your doctor may refer you to a cancer specialist. Treatment usually begins a few weeks after receiving a breast cancer diagnosis. the patient should use this time to talk about treatment options, such as surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, biological therapy or hormone therapy. Before beginning any treatment you may also wish to seek a second opinion. Once your treatment method is determined it is important to prepare your family. A breast cancer diagnosis does not have to be deadly it is up to you to watch for the signs so that it can be caught early.