Breast Cancer - Exams and Tests
You may have a screening test to look for breast cancer. (Screening tests help your doctor look for a certain disease before any symptoms appear.) The earlier
breast cancer is found, the more easily and
successfully it can be treated.
type and frequency of breast cancer screening that is best for you changes as
you age. The most common ways to find breast cancer early include:
If your doctor thinks that you
have breast cancer, you may have other tests, including:
- More mammograms.
ultrasound. You may have an ultrasound of the breast
if a lump is found during a clinical breast exam or on a mammogram.
MRI of the breast. This is sometimes used to get more
information about a breast lump or to evaluate problems in women who have
breast biopsy. If a lump is found in your breast, your
doctor will need to remove a small sample of the lump (biopsy) and look at it
under a microscope to see whether any cancer cells are present.
- Other tests may be done to help with treatment decisions. These include:
- Estrogen and progesterone receptor status. The hormones estrogen and progesterone stimulate the growth of
normal breast cells as well as some breast cancers. Hormone receptor status is
an important piece of information that will help you and your doctor plan
- HER-2 receptor status. HER-2/neu is a
protein that regulates the growth of some breast cancer cells. About 20 out of 100
women with breast cancer have too much (overexpression) of this
- Gene tests for postmenopausal women with hormone-receptor-positive breast cancer. These tests can show your chances of the cancer coming back. This can help your doctor tell whether chemotherapy is likely to work for you.
complete blood count (CBC) to provide important
information about the kinds and numbers of cells in your blood.
chemistry screen, to measure the levels of several
substances (such as those involved in liver functions) in your
chest X-ray, to provide a picture of organs and
structures within your chest, including your heart and lungs, your blood
vessels, and the thin sheet of muscle just below your lungs (diaphragm).