If a mammogram or ultrasound indicates a cause for concern, a biopsy is typically performed. If breast cancer is found, treatment typically involves surgery (a lumpectomy or mastectomy) in concert with chemotherapy and radiation therapy.
Diagnosis by Biopsy
Breast cancer diagnosis usually requires a biopsy, which is the removal of a small sample of breast tissue to identify and diagnose abnormalities in the cells. There are several types of breast biopsy procedures; which type of procedure is chosen depends upon a number of factors, including the size and location of the breast abnormality. The result of the biopsy will determine next steps and what treatment options to consider. A breast lumpectomy or mastectomy may be recommended if cancer is diagnosed.
In a lumpectomy, also known as a or partial mastectomy, a surgeon removes the part of the breast containing cancer, as well as some surrounding tissues and lymph nodes. The rest of the breast remains intact. This option is often considered if the cancer is in the early stages. How the breast looks after surgery depends on the amount and location of the tissue removed. The look and feel of the breast can continue to change during the first 1-2 years after surgery. In most cases a lumpectomy is an outpatient procedure that is followed by radiation therapy.
In a mastectomy, the surgeon removes the entire breast, and may include the nipple and areola. A mastectomy usually requires at least one night’s stay in the hospital, and is sometimes followed by radiation therapy. Recovery can take 3-4 weeks, or longer if breast reconstruction was performed at the same time.
Decisions between mastectomy and lumpectomy are based on evaluation of the patient. Imaging and discussion by the breast tumor board.
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