Diagnosing Breast Cancer

Although it is one of the most prevalent kinds of cancer in the US, breast cancer is highly treatable if detected early. With an increase in available treatments, technologies and cutting-edge research, those with advanced breast cancer have a much higher chance of making a full recovery.

Once an abnormality is found in a mammography or physician exam, a patient is often referred for additional breast imaging with diagnostic mammography, ultrasound or biopsy. Though a biopsy is the only definitive way to determine the presence of cancer, SSM Health offers many diagnostic technologies to give you the most accurate results possible.

Breast Ultrasound

This test is used to diagnose breast abnormalities discovered through a mammogram or by a physician during a physical exam. It’s effective at focusing on these abnormalities and determining if the suspicious area is a harmless, fluid-filled cyst or a tumor.

Breast MRI

A non-invasive, diagnostic testing procedure that offers more detailed images as compared to mammography or ultrasound, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) applies large magnet and radio frequencies to create highly detailed images of the breast. MRI procedures do not have the negative effects of radiation that are sometimes found in other diagnostic procedures.

Image-Guided Biopsy

An image-guided biopsy is used to remove a tissue sample through an imaging method including ultrasound or MRI. It helps to locate the biopsy site before it would be noticeable to touch. These biopsies collect sample cells surgically, or through a less invasive procedure involving a hollow needle. The sample is then tested to determine if cancerous cells are present.

Mammary Ductoscopy

A medical diagnostic procedure for viewing the internal features of the milk ducts, mammary ductoscopy is used on patients who display certain types of cancer symptoms, such as bloody discharge from the nipple. This procedure helps doctors find possible cancerous growths deep inside a milk duct gland that a mammogram might not detect. By using a one-millimeter camera, a physician can see and pinpoint the exact location of the growth and make a tiny incision to remove it along with the affected portion of the duct gland.

Stereotactic Biopsy

Used to collect tissue samples from a suspicious mass after it is detected through a mammogram or ultrasound, a stereotactic biopsy provides 2D images of the breast from two different angles. These images are closely examined on a computer to compare the data from each image and calculate the 3D breast coordinates to check for abnormalities. This information is then used to guide the biopsy needle so a radiologist or physician can accurately sample fluid or tissue for testing purposes.

If an abnormality has been found or you’ve been diagnosed with breast cancer, find an SSM Health provider in your community. Schedule an appointment to learn more about your options and next steps.

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