Breast Cancer Diagnostic Tests

After a screening mammogram has come back positive or a physician has ordered a more detailed scan, a patient will be given a diagnostic mammogram.

What is a diagnostic mammogram?

During this test a more comprehensive x-ray scan is taken of the breast tissue from more views than the screening test. A diagnostic mammogram takes a longer time than a screening test because the technician will be getting more detailed views of the abnormality and surrounding breast tissue. The diagnostic mammogram will help physicians see any changes in the breast tissue from the screening mammogram to now. The changes that can be observed from the first x-ray to the latest one will affect diagnosis or help correct a false positive from the original screening test.

Breast Ultrasound

Another diagnostic test your physician may use is an ultrasound test. Unlike the mammogram, which can cause discomfort, ultrasounds are painless. An ultrasound may be used to get a closer look at an abnormality that appeared on a mammogram.

Breast MRI Scan

If your physician can not determine what the abnormality in your breast tissue is, they may order an MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) test. An MRI machine is a narrow tube that uses magnets and radio waves to created highly detailed image of the breast tissue. Following this scan a physician should be able to tell you right away what the abnormality is and if additional steps are needed.

Breast tissue biopsy

Done on an outpatient basis, breast biopsies are where a small amount of breast tissue is removed and analyzed for irregularities consistent with cancer. The most common types of breast biopsies include:

  • Fine needle aspiration biopsy
  • Core needle biopsy
  • Surgical biopsy

Most women experience lots of anxiety waiting for test results. At the Baptist Comprehensive Breast Center your breast health specialist will keep you informed of all updates and help you manage any stress or anxiety you have throughout the diagnostic process.