Diagnosing Breast Cancer
Breast cancer is often first suspected when a lump or change is found in the breast or when an abnormal area is seen on a mammogram.
Most of the time, these findings don’t turn out to be breast cancer. However, the only way to know for sure is through follow-up tests.
This section describes how breast cancer is diagnosed and the factors that affect prognosis and guide treatment.
Follow-up tests after an abnormal finding on a screening test
Sometimes, breast cancer can be ruled out with a follow-up mammogram (diagnostic mammogram), breast ultrasound or breast MRI.
A biopsy removes cells or tissue from a suspicious area in the breast. The cells or tissue are studied under a microscope to see if cancer is present.
The breast tissue removed during a biopsy is sent to a pathologist. The pathologist examines the tissue and prepares a report of the findings, including the diagnosis.
Waiting for biopsy results
Waiting for your biopsy results is hard. Try not to panic or worry. Most breast biopsies in the U.S. don’t show cancer .
Factors that affect prognosis and treatment
Learning about the factors that affect prognosis (chances for survival) can help you understand your diagnosis and your treatment options.
Types of Tumors (how the cancer cells look under a microscope)
Hormone Receptor Status (estrogen and progesterone status)
Tumor Profiling Score:
Breast cancer stages and staging
Breast cancer stage describes the extent of the cancer within your body. It’s the most important factor affecting a person’s prognosis.
Molecular subtypes of breast cancer
Researchers are studying how molecular subtypes of breast cancer may be useful in planning treatment and developing new therapies.
Special forms of breast cancer
Though they are not specific types of tumors, some special forms of breast cancer are described in this section.
New tools are under study that may inform breast cancer diagnosis and give information about tumors to help guide treatment.
Questions for your provider
Susan G. Komen® Support Resources
TOOLS & RESOURCES