Breast Cancer Diagnosis
The signs of breast cancer are often hidden within your breast tissue, so you will need breast cancer testing from a medical professional to get a clear diagnosis. There are several ways to do this.
Clinical Breast Examination (CBE)
Women should have a clinical breast examination on an annual basis, especially after age 40, and if irregularities are found a mammogram can help clarify the nature of the problem.
A mammogram is essential for early breast cancer detection and is a vital breast cancer detection tool that can help to detect 85 to 90% of breast cancers even before a lump is felt.
A sample of tissue or fluid will be taken and tested by a pathologist if a breast lump is suspicious. A fluid test involves drawing fluid from the breast ducts for examination or screening for cancer cells. Another form of testing is an aspiration, where a medical professional will suction a sample of fluid from a lump using a fine needle, which is then assessed for better diagnosis.
A breast biopsy is performed by a surgeon to remove a small tissue sample from your breast, which will be checked under a microscope for cancer.
Knowing your HER2 status affects your diagnosis and treatment.
During diagnosis your cells will be tested for HER2, which stands for Human Epidermal growth factor Receptor 2. It is important to find your cancer’s HER2 status as HER2+ tumours show more aggressive growth than tumours that are not HER2+.
Once all of the results of your breast assessment and examination are in, your doctor will summarise the diagnosis. Your breast cancer will be ranked in stages, and a course of treatment will be decided on.