Sunday, September 24, 2023

Breast Cancer

Diagnosis of breast cancer


Doctors use numerous checks to discover or diagnose breast cancer. They may additionally do reviews to test if cancer has spread past the breast and the lymph nodes beneath the arm. If this happens, it is referred to as metastasis. They may additionally do tests to look at which remedies could be maximum effective.

For most varieties of cancer, a biopsy is the simplest way for the doctor to recognise if an area of the body has cancer. In a biopsy, the doctor uses a small sample of tissue for checking out in a laboratory.

Your doctor may analyse these factors when deciding on a particular diagnostic test: –

  1. Type of cancer

  2. Signs and symptoms

  3. Age and overall health

  4. The results of previous medical tests

A woman or her doctor may also discover a tumour or strange calcifications on screening mammography or a lump or nodule withinside the breast at some stage in a medical or self-examination, which triggers a chain of assessments to decide whether or not she has breast cancer. A red or puffy breast, as well as a lump or nodule under the arm, are much less common symptoms.

The following tests help in the diagnosis of breast cancer or for follow-up testing after a breast cancer diagnosis: –


Images of the interior of the body are produced via imaging tests. The following breast imaging tests can be used to study greater about a suspicious location observed during screening. In addition to these, exceptional new sorts of tests are being investigated, which are given below: –

Diagnostic mammogram– A mammogram is a form of X-ray used to take a look at the breast. It corresponds to mammography screening; besides, it takes more pictures of the breast. It is often used while a female has symptoms like a new lump or nipple discharge. If a screening mammogram reveals something abnormal, diagnostic mammography can be used.

Ultrasound– Ultrasound imaging creates images of structures deep inside the body through the use of sound waves. An ultrasound can distinguish between a firm tumour that is probably cancer and a fluid-stuffed cyst that isn’t typically malignant. Ultrasound also can be used to manually a biopsy needle into a selected location, allowing cells to be extracted and screened for cancer. Swollen lymph nodes under the arm also can be treated this way. Ultrasound is conveniently available, easy to use, and no longer exposes the person to dangerous radiation. It’s also much less costly than numerous different alternatives.

MRI–  MRI uses magnetic fields, not x-rays, to create detailed images of the body. A contrast medium, injected into the patient’s vein, helps enhance the clarity of suspected cancer areas. Breast MRI is performed to assess the extent of cancer spread or screen the other breast after a cancer diagnosis. It is recommended for high-risk individuals or those with a history of breast cancer. MRI is also used for locally advanced breast cancer, treatment planning, and post-treatment surveillance.


A biopsy is a process in which a tiny amount of tissue is eliminated and tested under a microscope. Other tests may also indicate the presence of disease; however, a biopsy is the most effective approach to verify breast cancer diagnosis. A biopsy is a process wherein your doctor extracts a core of tissue from a suspicious region using a specialised needle tool guided by an X-ray or any other imaging test. A small metal marker is often left at the area inside your breast so that subsequent imaging tests may quickly identify the site.

Biopsy samples are submitted to a laboratory for testing, where experts determine if the cells are malignant. A biopsy sample is likewise examined to set up the sort of cells involved in breast cancer, the disease’s aggressiveness (grade), and whether or not cancer cells have hormone receptors or different receptors that would affect your treatment options.

Analysing the biopsy sample:

  • Tumour features– The tumour is examined under a microscope to identify whether it is invasive or non-invasive (in situ), whether it is lobular or ductal, or another kind of breast cancer, and whether it has spread to the lymph nodes. The tumour’s margins or edges are inspected, and the distance between the tumour and the excised tissue’s edge is quantified, known as margin width.
  • ER and PR, Breast cancers displaying ER, i.e. oestrogen receptors and PR, i.e. progesterone receptors, are termed “hormone receptor-positive.” These receptors are proteins that are found in cells.
    Testing for ER and PR can assist in identifying a patient’s risk of recurrence of cancer and the sort of treatment that is most likely to reduce that risk. Hormonal treatment, commonly known as endocrine therapy, lowers the risk of recurrence of ER-positive and PR-positive malignancies in general. According to guidelines, everyone newly diagnosed with invasive breast cancer or a breast cancer recurrence should have their ER and PR status evaluated on the region of the spread of cancer and breast tumour.
  • HER2– About 20% of breast cancers are HER2 positive, meaning they have increased levels of the HER2 protein due to multiple copies of the HER2 gene. HER2 status is determined to identify if targeted therapies like trastuzumab (Herceptin) and epratuzumab (Perjeta) can be effective. Testing is recommended at the initial diagnosis of invasive breast cancer and may be repeated if the cancer spreads or recurs. This assessment is crucial for guiding treatment decisions for aggressive tumors.
  • Grade– A biopsy is also used to identify the tumour grade. The grade describes how cancer cells vary from healthy cells and whether they develop slower or quicker. The cancer is considered “well-differentiated” or a “low-grade tumour” if it resembles healthy tissue and has distinct cell groupings. A “poorly differentiated” or “high-grade tumour” is defined as malignant tissue that looks substantially different from healthy tissue. There are three levels of differentiation: grade 1 (highly differentiated), grade 2 (moderately differentiated), and grade 3 (poorly differentiated). 


Doctors employ genomic testing to check for specific genes or proteins, molecules produced by genes present in or on cancer cells. These tests aid clinicians in gaining a better understanding of the characteristics of each patient’s breast cancer. Genomic testing can also be used to predict the likelihood of cancer returning following therapy. Knowing this information can assist doctors and patients in making treatment decisions and help some people avoid undesirable side effects from medicines that aren’t required.

The genetic assays described below can be performed on a tumour sample that has already been removed via a biopsy or surgery:-

Oncotype Dx™– This test is available to patients who have ER-positive and PR-positive, HER2-negative breast cancer that hasn’t progressed to the lymph nodes, as well as specific situations where cancer has spread to the lymph nodes. Patients and their doctors can use this test to determine if chemotherapy should be added to hormonal treatment.

MammaPrint™– This test is an alternative for people with ER-positive and PR-positive, HER2-negative or HER2-positive breast cancer that has not reached the lymph nodes or has only spread to 1 to 3 lymph nodes. This test estimates the probability of recurrence for early-stage breast cancer using information from 70 genes. This test can assist patients and their doctors to decide if chemotherapy should be added to hormonal treatment if they have a high chance of the disease recurrence. This test is not advised for those who have a low risk of cancer recurrence.

Additional tests: Some other tests may be available for patients with ER-positive and PR-positive, HER2-negative breast cancer that has not progressed to the lymph nodes. PAM50 (Prosigna TM), EndoPredict, Breast Cancer Index, and uPA/PAI are some available tests. It can also be used to predict the likelihood of cancer spreading to other regions of the body.

Your doctor will undergo all the outcomes with you when the diagnostic tests are done. These records can help the doctor describe cancer if the analysis is cancer known as staging. If a suspicious region is detected outside of the breast and adjacent lymph nodes, a biopsy of different parts of the body can be required to decide whether or not it is cancer.