The doctor will ask you about your symptoms and risk factors, and then perform a physical exam that includes both breasts, armpits and the neck and chest area. Additional tests may include:
- Mammography to help identify the breast lump
- Breast MRI to help better identify the breast lump
- Breast ultrasound to show whether the lump is solid or fluid-filled
- Breast biopsy, needle aspiration or breast lump removal to remove all or part of the breast lump for closer examination by a laboratory specialist
- CT scan
- Sentinal lymph node biopsy
- PET scan
If your doctor learns that you do have breast cancer, additional tests will be done to see if the cancer has spread. This is called staging. Staging helps guide future treatment and followup and gives you some idea of what to expect in the future.
Breast cancer stages range from 0 to IV. Breast cancer that has not spread is called ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS), or noninvasive breast cancer. If it spreads, the cancer is called invasive breast cancer. The higher the number, the more advanced the cancer.