When a lump or change in the breast is found through self exams or a mammogram, follow up tests are needed to determine whether or not the lump or change in the breast is caused by cancer.
If something abnormal is detected on a mammogram, either a follow-up mammogram (also called a diagnostic mammogram), breast ultrasound, or a breast MRI is done. These tests can rule out breast cancer. In the case the test shows breast cancer, a biopsy will be needed.
There are two main types of biopsies that can be done:
Needle biopsies: a health care provider removes tissue or cells with a needle
Surgical biopsies: a surgeon makes an incision (cut) in the breast to remove tissue
To learn more about how these are done, click here.
The removed breast tissue from the biopsy is then sent to a pathologist. The pathologist examine the tissue under a microscope and determines if the tissue is cancerous or not. The findings are then reported to the ordering physician.
Your treatment plan should be discussed between you and your doctor. Once your health care provider has received your biopsy results, they will recommend a treatment plan based on the type of breast cancer, stage of breast cancer, your overall health, and your own personal preference.
Treatment options includes:
Tools and Resources:
The National Breast Cancer Foundation and the American Cancer Society has great resources for you and your loved ones, including a helpline, financial assistance programs, educational materials, translations, and more.
Breast Care Helpline
If you or a loved one needs more information about breast health or breast cancer, call our breast care helpline at 1-877 GO KOMEN (1-877-465-6636). All calls are answered by a trained and caring staff member in English and Spanish, Monday through Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. ET. You can also email the breast care helpline at firstname.lastname@example.org.