Breast Cancer Diagnosis & Detection
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Breast Cancer Diagnosis & Detection
At Cancer Treatment Centers of America (CTCA), we understand the importance of a thorough and accurate cancer diagnosis in ensuring you receive the most effective breast cancer treatments for your situation.
Within the first two days of your arrival at our hospital, we will perform a complete array of diagnostic tests. Our clinicians will also review your medical records, including your health history. This information helps us formulate treatment recommendations best suited to you.
Breast Cancer Diagnostic Tools, Tests & Procedures
Our team of breast cancer experts uses advanced diagnostic tests and tools to accurately locate and stage the disease, and plan your individualized treatment. Throughout your breast cancer treatment, we'll use imaging and laboratory tests to track the size of the tumors, monitor your response to treatment and modify your treatment when needed:
To ensure an accurate breast cancer diagnosis, your doctor may conduct a breast exam with attention to enlarged lumps, nodules, swelling or thickening that is not like normal breast tissue. In addition, he or she will also check for enlarged lymph nodes under your armpits or around your collarbone.
During this procedure, your doctor removes cells from the breast and a pathologist inspects the cells under a microscope to see if they are cancerous. Some common biopsies used to help doctors make a breast cancer diagnosis include: fine needle aspiration biopsy, which uses a small needle; core needle biopsy, which uses a larger needle; or surgical biopsy, in which all or part of a lump is removed and checked for cancer.
- Sentinel Lymph Node Biopsy: Your doctor may first perform a sentinel lymph node biopsy to determine whether cancer has spread to the lymph glands under the arm. First, a radioactive substance and/or a dye is injected near the tumor site. Then, the first lymph nodes that pick up the dye are removed and reviewed by a pathologist to check for the presence of cancer cells.
- MRI-Guided Breast Biopsy: A minimally invasive, image-guided procedure in which specially trained radiologists use MRI technology and targeting software to precisely locate and remove cells from a suspicious area in the breast for diagnosis and treatment planning.
This technology uses high-frequency sound waves to produce precise images of the breast tissues. It allows us to detect the slightest abnormalities in dense breasts and helps us determine whether a lump is a cyst (sac containing fluid) or a solid mass. It can also be used to precisely locate the position of a tumor in order to guide your doctor during a biopsy or aspiration procedure. For example, in some cases, our surgical oncologists will use an intraoperative ultrasound during a lumpectomy to mark out the boundaries of the tumor prior to its removal.
With Full Field Digital Mammography, we can quickly acquire exceptionally sharp, digital images of the breasts with less radiation exposure. Once the digital images are acquired and transmitted to a high-tech, digital mammography workstation, our radiologists analyze the images to determine the precise location and extent of the disease. This advanced breast cancer detection technology offers the potential for significant advances in breast cancer diagnosis, including lower radiation doses, reduced breast compression pressure and improved breast cancer detection rates. Often the best way to find DCIS early is with a mammogram.
Other Imaging Tests
- MRI: MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) technology uses radiofrequency waves to create detailed cross-sectional images of the breasts. MRI helps us to identify tumors that may have been missed by a mammogram.
- PET/CT Scan: This test merges two imaging technologies, positron emission tomography (PET) and computed tomography (CT), into one machine to create detailed, computerized pictures of areas inside the body. When combined into one singular image, we can identify abnormal activity and know precisely where this activity is taking place. In April 2009, CTCA at Southwestern Regional Medical Center became the first hospital in the nation to offer the Discovery™ PET/CT 600 scanner. This technology offers advanced motion management capabilities and can detect lesions as small as 2.8 millimeters.
- Bone Scan: This scan can reveal if the cancer has spread to the bone from the breast. In a bone scan, a small dose of radioactive material is injected into a blood vessel, where it travels through the bloodstream. The material then gathers in the bones and is detected by a scanner through nuclear imaging.
Lab Tests: Tumor Tests & Genetic Tests
- Oncotype DX® : The Oncotype DX® test (also called the 21-gene test) is used to determine if chemotherapy is likely to benefit women with early stage breast cancer. This lab test also helps us to know the likelihood of disease recurrence. With this information, you and your doctor can make more informed decisions about your breast cancer treatment.
Tumor Molecular Profiling: For this lab test, we remove a sample of the metastatic or recurrent breast tumor, often as part of a biopsy or other surgery. Then, we test for a variety of enzymes, proteins and genes to identify which drug therapies are likely to be most effective. Examples of tests include HER2 tumor tests and hormone receptor tests.
Tools for Metastatic Breast Cancer Detection
Our physicians have expertise in treating breast cancer that has metastasized (spread) to other areas of the body. Some common places for breast cancer to spread are the bones, liver, lungs, skin and brain. If you are battling metastatic breast cancer, your CTCA care team will provide innovative diagnostic tests and procedures to better plan your treatment.
For example, our breast cancer experts may use radiofrequency ablation for breast cancer patients with metastasis to the liver, Endobronchial Ultrasound System (EBUS) for metastasis to the lungs or kyphoplasty for metastasis to the bone.
Cancer Detection Turnaround Times and Comfort Equipment
At CTCA, we understand that after a breast cancer diagnosis, waiting for additional test results can create a great deal of stress and anxiety. To ease anxiety and help you begin your breast cancer treatments sooner, we offer reduced wait times for appointments and test results. Our turnaround time goal—from the time of the scan to providing results so treatment planning can occur—is four hours.
In addition, we also want you to be as comfortable as possible during your imaging tests. Our team uses padding and comfort equipment, as well as a variety of positioning devices, to help you feel more relaxed during scans and procedures.
Breast Cancer Diagnosis: Next Steps
We understand you may be feeling overwhelmed with questions and concerns about your diagnosis and what it all means. Your care team at CTCA will present you with options and guidance so you can make informed decisions about your care.
To learn more about our cancer hospitals and the innovative tools we use for breast cancer detection and planning your cancer treatment, call us at 1-800-615-3055 or Chat Now. Our Oncology Information Specialists are here for you 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
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