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Diagnosing breast cancer

Whether the cancer is discovered after filling a 'lump' in the breast (self-examination by the patient or at a doctor's clinic), or by an X-ray (mammogram or ultrasound), the formal proof of the diagnosis comes from analysis of the suspected cells under a microscope.

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Summary of diagnostic examinations

  • Clinical examination. Cancer can sometimes be discovered by the presence of a 'lump' in the breast. The majority of these nodules are found to be benign. However, given the frequency with which cancer occurs, any woman who detects a lump in one of her breasts should consult a doctor.
  • Imaging. These examinations (essentially mammography and ultrasound) are prescribed by a physician as part of routine screening or following an abnormal breast examination. In some cases, an MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) scan is carried out.
  • Biopsy and cell analysis A piece of tissue is taken from the suspect zone and sent to the laboratory for analysis. This is the examination that confirms and clarifies the diagnosis