Breast Cancer Diagnosis
If WellStar physicians detect an abnormal or suspicious mass on your mammogram, they might suggest more testing, including biopsies.
In the past, biopsies often required a surgical procedure. But today, WellStar offers minimally invasive breast biopsies using digital imaging. These imaging technologies include:
Ultrasound, which sends out sound waves that can be captured by computer to create images of a breast lump. A doctor can use this method to guide a needle into very small tumors or cysts for biopsy.
MRI, or magnetic resonance imaging, which finds the tumor, plots its location, and helps aim the needle into the tumor. This is helpful for women with a suspicious area that can only be found by MRI. Wellstar offers breast-dedicated MRIs and two open air MRIs.
Stereotactic Core Needle Biopsy,which uses x-ray equipment to analyze the pictures (x-ray views). The computer then pinpoints exactly where in the abnormal area the needle tip needs to go. This type is often used to biopsy microcalcifications (tiny calcium deposits).
Typically, physicians will give the patient numbing medicine and then insert a needle into the breast and guide it to the area where the suspicious mass is located using an imaging technique. The doctor will take several samples from the mass, and the samples will then be sent to a pathologist for examination to determine whether the mass is malignant.
Breast Cancer Stages
When breast cancer is diagnosed, your WellStar physician will categorize it by the current stage: Stage I, Stage II, Stage II or Stage IV. Each stage describes how large the tumor is and whether the cancer has spread to other parts of the body. You should talk to your WellStar physician to understand each stage, and what it means for your treatment plan.