Diagnosing Breast Cancer

Diagnosing Breast Cancer

Breast cancer is the second-most common cancer in American women after skin cancer. According to the American Cancer Society, there is a 1 in 8 chance that a woman in the US will develop breast cancer in her lifetime, and about 268,600 women will be diagnosed in 2019.1

Getting an accurate breast cancer diagnosis is a crucial first step to getting the most appropriate treatment and, ultimately, the best outcome. Doctors at Memorial Sloan Kettering (MSK) use a number of tests and procedures to diagnose cancerous changes in the breast. These include:

  • Medical history
  • Physical exam
  • Imaging tests such as a mammogram, ultrasound, and MRI

If your doctor finds signs of breast cancer, MSK's specialists may perform other tests, including a biopsy, to find out more information about what type of cancer it is and how advanced or aggressive it is. A biopsy is the only test that can make a definite diagnosis of breast cancer.

Breast Cancer Treatment at MSK

MSK's team of breast cancer specialists strives to give every patient compassionate, personalized care. Your team will include doctors, nurses, and other professionals whose sole focus is breast cancer.

Specialists from all areas of breast cancer care will design a treatment plan especially for you. Their areas of expertise include:

MSK specialists from all areas of breast cancer care will design a treatment plan especially for you.

Members of your care team will work together to design a treatment plan that will most effectively address your specific type of breast cancer. MSK offers:

  • a complete approach to surgery, including innovative strategies that can save or reconstruct the breast
  • new drug treatments and other therapies being studied through our program of clinical trials
  • novel systemic therapies for breast cancer, including treatments that are targeted to specific breast cancer subtypes
  • more-effective radiation therapy directly targeted to tumors using the most precise methods available
  • experts to help you manage lymphedema, problems with movement, sexual dysfunction, stress, and other side effects of breast cancer

Access MSK Care, Close to Home

At MSK, you will receive advanced, comprehensive cancer care from an experienced and compassionate team of cancer specialists — as well as practical and emotional support — to meet your unique needs and circumstances.

Consistently ranked among the top hospitals for cancer care in the United States, MSK is well known for its hospital location on the Upper East Side of Manhattan.

Many of the breast cancer specialists and therapies you need are conveniently located at MSK's Evelyn H. Lauder Breast Center in Manhattan. The center provides pioneering breast cancer services that go beyond the standard of care — including prevention, diagnosis, treatment, and support — all under one roof, in a comfortable setting where breast cancer is recognized as a treatable and often curable disease.

MSK also has a number of state-of-the-art outpatient facilities located in Manhattan, Brooklyn, Long Island, Westchester, and New Jersey, where you can receive the same outstanding cancer care closer to home.

For more information about treatment for breast cancer, please visit

Learn More: Search by Cancer Type at MSK

1American Cancer Society. How Common is Breast Cancer?

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