How can you know if you have breast cancer?

A lump or mass in breast generally warns a person to visit the doctor’s office for an evaluation of breast cancer. However, not always a symptom occur or a mass in breast is felt. Certain breast cancers can cause breast skin dimpling.

In past self breast examination was much talked about but in recent days it’s not thought as a reliable method anymore. Hence a X-ray of the breast called ‘mammogram’ is done when breast cancer is suspected or as a part of screening. Mammograms are generally unable to pick up  breast cancers that occur at young age, since breast tissue is too dense in young females.

If mammogram shows any breast cancer hint then a pathologic examination (cytology or biopsy) might follow as a next step. There is a term called triple assessment – which includes clinical assessment, imaging assessment (mammogram or ultrasound) and pathologic assessment (cytology or biopsy). These tests are done as part of screening exam for breast cancer.

If a breast cancer is diagnosed the doctor will decide the stage of the cancer and might recommend surgery or radiation or chemotherapy depending upon the stage and spread of the breast cancer. Axillary lymph nodes in axilla are common sites where breast cancer metastasizes (i.e. spread). Breat cancer  can also spread to various body parts like vertebra, brain etc.

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