Diagnosis of Breast Cancer in Women
In general, the diagnosis of breast cancer is done with a routine examination or when the sufferer knows certain symptoms that eventually became a driver to the doctor. Physical examination alone is not enough to confirm the diagnosis of breast cancer.
If you find a lump in your breast, your doctor will recommend several procedures to determine whether you have breast cancer or not.
- Mammography. Mammography examination is commonly used to detect the presence of cancer.
- Ultrasound. This type of examination is used to ascertain whether the lump in the breast is solid or fluid-filled.
- Biopsy. This examination includes the process of sampling breast cells and test it to determine whether the cells are cancerous. Through this procedure, biopsy samples will also be investigated to determine the type of breast cells affected by cancer, its malignancy and its reaction to hormones.
When diagnosed with cancer, you need a number of further tests to determine the stage and extent of cancer spread. Among them:
- MRI and CT scan.
- Chest x-rays.
- Examination of bone to check whether the cancer has spread to the bone.
- Lymph node biopsy (lymph smear) in the armpits. If cancer spreads, the first lymph nodes to be infected are lymph nodes sentinel.Location varies so it needs to be identified with a combination of radioactive isotopes and blue ink.
You are also encouraged to undergo an examination that will show a cancer reaction to certain types of treatment. Among them:
Cancer stimulated by a protein, called HER2 (human epidermal growth factor receptor 2), can be treated with drugs that block the HER2 effect. This type of treatment is called biological or molecular therapy.
Examination of hormone receptors
Growth of breast cancer cells may also be triggered by the body’s natural hormones, such as estrogen and progesterone. The cancer cell sample will be taken from the breast and tested to see its reaction to estrogen or progesterone. If the hormone attaches to the cancer cell, which is at the hormone receptor, the cell will be referred to as a positive hormone receptor.
Breast Cancer Stage
The stadium describes the size of the cancer and its extent. Non-invasive ductal breast cancer is sometimes described as Stage 0. Other stages explain the development of invasive breast cancer. The doctor will determine the stage of cancer after you have been diagnosed with cancer.
In stage 1
Tumor size less than 2 cm. The tumor does not spread to the lymph nodes in the armpits and there are no signs of spreading cancer to other parts of the body.
In stage 2
Tumor size 2-5 cm or no spread to lymph nodes, or both. There are no signs that the cancer has spread to other parts of the body.
In stage 3
Tumor size 2-5 cm. Tumors may be attached to the skin or tissue around the breast. The lymph nodes in the armpit are infected, but there is no sign that the cancer has spread to other parts of the body.
In stage 4
Tumors of all sizes and already spread to other parts of the body (metastasis).