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How is Breast Cancer Diagnosed?

Your doctor can check for breast cancer before you have any symptoms. During an office visit, your doctor will ask about your personal and family medical history. You will have a physical exam, which should include a clinical breast exam. Your doctor may order one or more imaging tests, such as a mammogram (an X-ray of the breast).

Clinical Breast Exam
During a clinical breast exam, your health care provider will look for differences in size or shape between your breasts. The skin of your breasts is checked for a rash, dimpling, or other abnormal signs. Your nipples may be squeezed to check for fluid. Your health care provider will check your entire breast, underarm, and collarbone area. The exam is done on one side and then the other. If a lump is found, further tests may be needed to diagnose the problem.

A mammogram is an x-ray picture of tissues inside the breast. Mammograms can often show a breast lump before it can be felt. They also can show a cluster of tiny specks of calcium. These specks are called micro-calcifications. Lumps or specks can be from cancer, precancerous cells, or other conditions. If the mammogram shows an abnormal area of the breast, your doctor may order additional tests to help diagnose your condition.

Date Updated: 20-AUG-2015

Akron General Medical Center • 1 Akron General Avenue (Formerly 400 Wabash Avenue) • Akron, OH 44307 • 330-344-6000 • 1-800-221-4601    © 2015 Akron General Health System
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