Diagnosis of Breast Cancer
- Fine needle aspiration —A thin needle is used to remove fluid and/or cells from a breast lump. If the fluid is clear, it may not be checked by a lab.
- Large needle (or core) biopsy—tissue from a suspicious area is removed with a special needle.
- Surgical biopsy —During a surgical biopsy, all or part of a breast lump is removed for lab examination. An incisional biopsy removes a small portion of a large lump, while an excisional biopsy removes the entire lump (usually small).
- CT scan of the chest and abdomen
- Bone scan
- Sentinel lymph node biopsy
- PET/CT—to help detect distant spread of tumor, especially for locally advanced disease
- Stage 0—Called "in situ" (within the site of origin), the cancer remains in the breast and has not spread.
- Stage I—Cancer has spread beyond the lobe or duct and invaded nearby tissue. At this stage, the tumor is no larger than two centimeters in size and has not spread beyond the breast.
Stage II—Stage II means one of the following:
- Tumor in the breast is less than two centimeters in size and the cancer has spread to the lymph nodes under the arm, or
- Tumor is between two and five centimeters in size (with or without spread to the lymph nodes under the arm) or
- Tumor is larger than five centimeters but has not spread to the lymph nodes under the arm
- Stage III—The tumor is large (more than five centimeters in size) and the cancer has spread to the lymph nodes. Additionally, the tumor could invade the skin, the chest wall, the nipple, or spread to the lymph nodes in the neck or chest wall (called internal mammary nodes).
- Stage IV—Cancer has spread beyond the breast and lymph nodes to other parts of the body.
Breast cancer. National Cancer Institute website. Available at: http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/types/breast . Accessed August 21, 2012.
Breast cancer. Womens' Health.gov website. Available at: http://www.womenshealth.gov/breast-cancer/ . Accessed January 27, 2006.
Casciato DA. Manual of Clinical Oncology. 6th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2009.
Breast cancer in woman. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed/what.php . Updated August 18, 2012. Accessed August 21, 2012.
5/11/2009 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed/what.php : Gnerlich JL, Deshpande AD, Jeffe DB, Sweet A, White N, Margenthaler JA. Elevated breast cancer mortality in women younger than age 40 years compared with older women is attributed to poorer survival in early-stage disease. J Am Coll Surg. 2009;208:341-347.
- Reviewer: Mohei Abouzied, MD
- Review Date: 10/2012 -
- Update Date: 10/11/2012 -