27 doctors weighed in:

How is breast cancer diagnosed? What are the types of breast lumps?

27 doctors weighed in
Dr. Steven Eisenberg
Internal Medicine - Hematology & Oncology
16 doctors agree

In brief: Biopsy needed...

A suspicious, palpable lump (mass) must be biopsied, whether seen on mammogram or not.
Many lumps are not cancerous, such as a fibroadenoma. But the only definitive way to elucidate the nature of the lump is biopsy.

In brief: Biopsy needed...

A suspicious, palpable lump (mass) must be biopsied, whether seen on mammogram or not.
Many lumps are not cancerous, such as a fibroadenoma. But the only definitive way to elucidate the nature of the lump is biopsy.
Dr. Steven Eisenberg
Dr. Steven Eisenberg
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Dr. Devon Webster
Internal Medicine - Oncology
6 doctors agree

In brief: With a biopsy

A breast lump is usually not cancer. Lumps can be cysts (fluid pockets), fibroadenomas (benign lumps), normal breast glandular tissue, or cancer. Sometimes lumps show up on mammograms or ultrasounds, but not always.
The only way to diagnose a lump as breast cancer is to get a sample, usually with a needle. A doctor looks at this carefully under a microscope to diagnose cancer.

In brief: With a biopsy

A breast lump is usually not cancer. Lumps can be cysts (fluid pockets), fibroadenomas (benign lumps), normal breast glandular tissue, or cancer. Sometimes lumps show up on mammograms or ultrasounds, but not always.
The only way to diagnose a lump as breast cancer is to get a sample, usually with a needle. A doctor looks at this carefully under a microscope to diagnose cancer.
Dr. Devon Webster
Dr. Devon Webster
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5 doctors agree

In brief: It's a team effort

Breast cancer is diagnosed by the use of several tools beginning with breast self exam monthly.
Your doctor's exam. Mammogram. Ultrasound. Mri. Pem (positron emission mammography). Once a suspicious abnormality is found, a biopsy is necessary. Only a pathologist can ultimately confirm the diagnosis.

In brief: It's a team effort

Breast cancer is diagnosed by the use of several tools beginning with breast self exam monthly.
Your doctor's exam. Mammogram. Ultrasound. Mri. Pem (positron emission mammography). Once a suspicious abnormality is found, a biopsy is necessary. Only a pathologist can ultimately confirm the diagnosis.
Dr. Stephen Saponaro
Dr. Stephen Saponaro
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Dr. Cynthia Point
Internal Medicine
4 doctors agree

In brief: Mammography

Most cancers are diagnosed by mammography, x-rays, of the breast.
Ultrasound can be used as well, to distinguish a non-cancerous cyst from a solid lump. Some cancers are found by patients or their partners, by feeling a lump. Mri can be a useful extra test. There are several types of lumps, benign cysts, benign fibroadenomas, lymph nodes, and cancers. These account for almost all lumps.

In brief: Mammography

Most cancers are diagnosed by mammography, x-rays, of the breast.
Ultrasound can be used as well, to distinguish a non-cancerous cyst from a solid lump. Some cancers are found by patients or their partners, by feeling a lump. Mri can be a useful extra test. There are several types of lumps, benign cysts, benign fibroadenomas, lymph nodes, and cancers. These account for almost all lumps.
Dr. Cynthia Point
Dr. Cynthia Point
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Dr. Barbara A Majeroni
Family Medicine
2 doctors agree

In brief: Biopsy

Some breast lumps are found by feeling the breast, in women over 40, mammograms may show early breast cancer.
The way to diagnose breast cancer is by taking a sample of the lump (often with a needle) to be examined by a pathologist.

In brief: Biopsy

Some breast lumps are found by feeling the breast, in women over 40, mammograms may show early breast cancer.
The way to diagnose breast cancer is by taking a sample of the lump (often with a needle) to be examined by a pathologist.
Dr. Barbara A Majeroni
Dr. Barbara A Majeroni
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Dr. Michael Klein
Family Medicine
2 doctors agree

In brief: Many ways

Cancer is often discovered by accident, such as when soaping in the shower or by a spouse.
It can also be discovered by a self exam or by a doctor's exam. Most commonly cancer is found during a mammogram. A biopsy, a small surgical procedure where a piece of the suspected cancer is sampled confirms it. Some breasts lumps include cysts, scar, fibroadenomas (benign hard growths), or cancer.

In brief: Many ways

Cancer is often discovered by accident, such as when soaping in the shower or by a spouse.
It can also be discovered by a self exam or by a doctor's exam. Most commonly cancer is found during a mammogram. A biopsy, a small surgical procedure where a piece of the suspected cancer is sampled confirms it. Some breasts lumps include cysts, scar, fibroadenomas (benign hard growths), or cancer.
Dr. Michael Klein
Dr. Michael Klein
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Dr. Sean Canale
Breast Surgery
1 doctor agrees

In brief: Ultimately by bx

Clinical examination and imaging (mmgs, u/s, etc) can give helpful information and suggest the likelihood of benign vs malig but definitive diagnosis generally requires a tissue sample for pathology diagnosis.
Generally, any new solid lesion in a postmenopausal pt should be biopsied. Almost all lesions can be biopsied w/a needle (core bx). Surgery should not occur w/o a DX already made.

In brief: Ultimately by bx

Clinical examination and imaging (mmgs, u/s, etc) can give helpful information and suggest the likelihood of benign vs malig but definitive diagnosis generally requires a tissue sample for pathology diagnosis.
Generally, any new solid lesion in a postmenopausal pt should be biopsied. Almost all lesions can be biopsied w/a needle (core bx). Surgery should not occur w/o a DX already made.
Dr. Sean Canale
Dr. Sean Canale
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