Breast Cancer Support: Part 2 Medical Examinations

In article one of this two-part series on breast cancer support, warning signs of breast cancer were discussed. In this second article, medical procedures for breast cancer support are explained.

Reviewing the warning signs of breast cancer

profile image of woman sitting at computer looking at signs of breast cancer on Pink Ribbon Consulting Page

Some of the signs and symptoms of breast cancer:

  1. Check for a painless lump in the armpit or breast area.
  2. Watch for a change in the shape and size of the breast.
  3. Be alert to a clear or pus-like secretion from the nipple.
  4. Check for changes in the color or texture of the skin of the breast, particularly the areola.

The occurrence of one or more of any of these warning signs or symptoms necessitates an immediate visit to a physician for an examination and breast cancer support.

Establishment of a breast cancer occurrence

Procedures that are done to detect and verify a breast cancer occurrence are:

  1. Physical Examination
  2. Mammography
  3. Ultrasonography
  4. Breast Cancer Biopsy

In the physical examination, the doctor examines the breast both visually and by touch by the pads of the fingers to diagnose diseased lumps from benign tumors. The Doctor will note changes in the texture and the contours of the area, looking for dimpling, sores, ulcers, nipple inversion or discharge, and puckering of the skin around the breast. Using the pads of the fingers the doctor will feel for unusual bumps or lumps, determining which might be a benign tumor which would have a different feel from cancerous tissue.

Next mammography – a high-energy x-ray – will be used to show the development of the abnormal breast tissue density or calcium deposits of any cancerous tumors before they would be visually or even physically noticeable. This procedure can often find malignancy at stages where it can still be cured, thus dramatically reducing the fatality rate of breast cancer.

Ultrasonography uses high-frequency sound waves to identify if a lump is a solid cancer tumor or fluid-filled, which is usually non-cancerous. This is the third screening in the breast cancer support.

The biopsy is the final arbiter as to whether or not a positive breast cancer occurrence has taken place. It is the extraction of breast tissue in one of three ways. First is fine needle aspiration when a thin needle withdraws cell samples. Secondly, a surgical biopsy removes all or part of the entire area under suspicion. Finally, large core biopsy uses a large needle to remove a core sample of the affected area.

Following the examination and testing, the phase or stage of development can be identified in order to determine the course of treatment that is appropriate for the patient.

For a complete discussion, the medical procedures to treat breast cancer please see our article on medical treatments.