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What are the Different Methods of Breast Cancer Detection?

By K. Gierok
Updated May 17, 2024
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Though breast cancer is among the leading cancers in terms of occurrence rate, with rapid detection, it can be effectively treated. One of the most common forms of breast cancer detection is mammograms, which are typically required on a yearly basis by those with a strong risk of developing breast cancer. In addition, breast ultrasounds or breast MRIs can also effectively aid in the detection of breast cancer. Breast biopsies are often used as a last step when diagnosing breast cancer, as they cannot only effectively recognize cancerous cells, but can also identify the specific stage of breast cancer.

One method of breast cancer detection is through the use of mammograms. Typically, a mammogram is the most common way in which breast abnormalities are first identified. Though mammograms may not be able to distinguish between a tumor and other, more benign conditions, it is still considered to be an effective tool in the diagnosis of breast cancer. In most cases, women who are over the age of 50, who have been diagnosed with breast cancer in the past, or who have a family history of breast cancer are encouraged to undergo regular mammograms. A mammogram should be conducted at least once per year, though in some cases, they may be required more often.

Breast ultrasounds are another common form of breast cancer treatment. They are often prescribed as a follow up to a mammogram, and are used most commonly to distinguish between breast cancer tumors or cysts. As ultrasounds are quite expensive when compared to the cost of a mammogram, they are usually used only in cases where breast abnormalities are identified.

An magnetic resonance image (MRI) is also sometimes used for breast cancer detection. In a breast MRI, dye is injected into the breast, and magnetic and radio waves are used to form a picture of the breast. Through this process, physicians are able to virtually examine the lump without causing any damage to the actual breast itself.

A breast biopsy is typically considered to be a final step in the confirmation of breast cancer. In this form of breast cancer detection, a small piece of breast tissue is removed from the patient. The cells of the biopsy are then examined closely in order to determine if they are cancerous or malignant. In the case of cancerous tumors, breast biopsies can be used to identify the stage of the cancer.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
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