Detecting and treating breast cancer
Depending on your age and risk factors, the doctor may recommend that you have a mammogram. During a regular physical exam, your doctor can check your breasts for lumps or changes. You also may find a lump during a breast self-exam.
If there are concerns, the doctor will check to see if there is cancer by examining a sample of cells (biopsy). The results of the biopsy help your doctor know if you have cancer and what type of cancer it is. You may have other tests to find out the stage of the cancer. The stage is a way for doctors to describe how far the cancer has spread.
Why is a mammogram done?
A mammogram is done to:
- Screen for breast cancer in women without symptoms.
- Detect breast cancer in women with symptoms. Symptoms of breast cancer may include a lump or thickening in the breast, nipple discharge, or dimpling of the skin on one area of the breast.
- Locate an area of suspicious breast tissue to remove for examination under a microscope (biopsy) when an abnormality is found.
How is breast cancer treated?
Your doctor may combine treatments. This is a common way to treat breast cancer. Treatment depends on what type and stage of cancer you have. You may have:
- Surgery to remove the cancer.
- Radiation — This uses high-dose X-rays to kill cancer cells and shrink tumors.
- Chemotherapy — This uses medicine to kill cancer cells.
- Hormone therapy — This uses medicines such as tamoxifen. It limits the effect of the hormone estrogen. This hormone can help some types of breast cancer cells to grow.
- Targeted therapy — This uses medicines to help your immune system fight the cancer