Diagnosing Benign Breast Conditions
In addition to obtaining a complete medical history, your health care provider, in diagnosing a breast condition, may:
- Perform a complete physical examination to:
- Locate any lump and feel its characteristics (i.e., texture, size, and relationship to the skin and chest muscles).
- Look for changes in the nipples or the skin of the breast.
- Check lymph nodes under the arm and above the collarbones.
- Request imaging tests, including:
- Diagnostic mammography to look for masses and calcifications.
- Breast ultrasound to further evaluate information from the physical examination or mammography.
- If there is discharge, other than breast milk, from the nipples, request a laboratory microscopic examination of the discharge.
- If there is discharge, other than breast milk, from the nipples, request a ductogram x-ray of the nipples.
- Request a biopsy of tissue removed from the suspicious area.
- Image-guided biopsies--those aided by ultrasound or other imaging techniques, including:
- Fine needle aspiration--a very fine (thin) needle is guided into the suspicious area and a small sample of the tissue is removed.
- Core needle biopsy--a larger needle is guided into the lump to remove a small cylinder (core) of tissue.
- Surgical biopsy--a surgical procedure is used to remove all or part of a lump.
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