During diagnosis of breast cancer, a physical exam is taken. A doctor takes a personal and family history and performs a breast exam and if possible, he /she orders a mammogram or an ultrasound of the breasts. Based on the results of these tests, the doctor may request a biopsy to get a sample of the breast tissue.
After removal of the sample, the sample is then sent to a laboratory for testing. In a laboratory, a pathologist looks for abnormal cell shapes or growth on the sample under a microscope. If cancer is present, the pathologist can tell what kind of cancer it is and whether it has spread beyond the ducts.
Laboratory tests such as hormone receptor tests can show whether estrogen and progesterone hormones help the cancer to grow and in such a case, hormonal treatment can help to stop the cancer from spreading.
If tests prove presence of cancer, a treatment plan is developed.
Age and general health of a person are put into consideration before treatment begins.
Type of treatment recommended depends on; size and location of the tumor in the breast, the results of laboratory tests done on the cancer cells and the stage of the disease.
Breast cancer treatments are normally done locally or systemically. When the treatment is done locally, the treatment is used to remove, destroy or control cancer cells in a specific area on the breast. This treatment can be done by surgery and through radiation. When the treatment is done systemically, the cancer will have spread to other parts of the body away from the breast. This treatment is used to destroy or control cancer cells all over the body through hormone therapy.
A patient can have just one form of treatment or a combination depending on extent of the cancer. Breast cancer diagnosis and treatment are best accomplished by a team of experts working together with the patient.