Monday, January 6, 2014

Diagnosis of Breast Cancer

The first step to getting a diagnosis is detection. Monitoring your own breast tissue contains 3 main components including a) Breast Self-examination b) Clinical Breast Exam and c) Mammography.

A woman may notice abnormalities while doing a self-exam. By examining your breasts every month, you will become familiar and be able to detect changes better.
The following are the steps to perform breast self-examination.

a) Breast Self-Examination

1) Put your hands on hip while standing in front of a mirror to visually examine your breasts. Then stand with your hands behind your head with fingers interwoven and look for changes in size, lumps, shape, contour, color, dimples or inverted nipples.

2) Press each nipple to see if there is a discharge.

3) Lie down putting a pillow under your left shoulder. Place your left hand under your head while lying down. Using your right hand, fingers flattened together into a pad form and press on the top portion of the left breast in a circular motion to examine the outer, then the inner circle of the breast including nipple. Use light pressure for area under skin's surface. Then add a little more pressure to feel halfway into the flesh. Finally, use deep pressure to feel down the ribs. Examine the breast and chest area under your armpit. With the same way, repeat on the right side using your left hand.

With the above self-examination method, you should be able to feel any unusual lump or thickening tissues or skin.

b) Clinical breast Exam

This is conducted during your annual gynecological examination. Your doctor will place pressure on your breasts in circular motion the pads of his or her fingers. You will have one hand tucked under your head while the other breast is being examined.

c) Mammography

Mammography is able to detect any cancerous growth before it can be felt by a manual

exam. It is an X-ray image of the breast. A screening mammogram is done when a clinical breast exam is normal. It consists of two views of each breast including:

a) An up and down view and

b) Side to side view.

A diagnostic mammogram is performed to evaluate any abnormality found during a breast exam. Mammograms may sometimes cause discomfort because the breasts must be compressed until the skin is taut. Mammograms can detect breast calcifications made of minute amounts of calcium that cannot be detected by self or clinical exams. Generally, a radiologist can make a prediction on the likelihood of a lesion is malignant based on a screening mammograms. For women who already have symptoms suggestion of breast cancer (e.g. a palpable lump), diagnostic mammographics is necessary as they include additional views to give a more accurate prediction as to the likelihood of cancer.