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Diagnosing Breast Cancer

Diagnosing Breast Cancer

Women with an area of concern on the screening mammogram or with breast symptoms such as a lump, nipple or skin changes, or focal breast pain should have a diagnostic breast imaging exam. Women with a personal history of treated breast cancer or high lifetime risk for breast cancer may also benefit from a diagnostic breast imaging evaluation. Diagnostic breast imaging is a problem-solving tool that uses mammography, breast ultrasound, or a combination of both types of imaging tests to exclude or confirm breast cancer.

Diagnostic Mammogram

The diagnostic mammogram uses either traditional 2D or 3D mammography techniques to obtain customized pictures of the breast tissues. Each diagnostic mammogram exam is uniquely tailored to the woman receiving the exam and the reason for the test.

Breast Ultrasound

Breast ultrasound can add important helpful information as a part of the diagnostic breast imaging exam. Unlike mammography, breast ultrasound does not require compression of the breasts, and is performed while lying down. Ultrasound uses sound waves to analyze the breast tissues, and is especially helpful in determining if a breast lump is fluid-filled or solid in composition.

What is a Breast Biopsy?

Breast biopsy procedures are performed using imaging guidance to target an area of concern and obtain a sample for definitive testing.

Ultrasound Guided Breast Biopsy

Ultrasound-guided breast biopsies are the most common type of breast biopsy performed. This procedure is used when the suspicious finding is a space-occupying breast mass. Ultrasonic sound waves provide visualization of the biopsy target during the entire biopsy procedure. The breast imaging physician will watch in real time as tissue samples are obtained from the breast using a core biopsy device, to ensure safe and accurate diagnostic sampling.

Stereotactic- or tomosynthesis-guided breast Biopsy

2D or 3D mammography is used in this type of biopsy to localize the breast finding of concern and provide precise coordinates within the breast for biopsy device placement. This procedure is most often used for sampling of calcifications in the breast that cannot be visualized with ultrasound, because some types of calcifications can be a sign of early breast cancer.

How do I prepare?

No special preparation is required for the biopsy – you can eat and drink, take any medications as usual, and drive yourself to and from the biopsy.

What to Expect

Breast biopsies are performed in both our Jacksonville and Amelia Island offices under local anesthesia. Most breast biopsy procedures take twenty minutes or less to perform. During a stereotactic guided biopsy, the area of the breast containing the biopsy target will remain compressed during the biopsy and images will be taken at different points during the procedure to confirm safe and accurate diagnostic sampling.

After Your Biopsy

Discomfort from the biopsy procedure is typically minimal, and there are very few restrictions to your activity after the biopsy as they do not require sutures. An Ackerman Cancer Center physician will review your biopsy results with you as soon as they become available, and you will receive an expert recommendation regarding the next steps in your care.