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How is breast cancer diagnosed?

Cancer is scary, and we all hope that we and our loved ones can escape its far-reaching grasp. Unfortunately, for many Floridians and their families, this isn't possible. In those instances, individuals hope that the disease is quickly detected and treated efficiently. Early detection is often key, as treating cancer in the earlier stages can increase the likelihood of remission and provides an increased chance of survival.

One of the most common types of cancer is breast cancer. There are many ways that this disease can be diagnosed, and those who believe they have symptoms of breast cancer should be sure to see their doctor. Once at the doctor, an individual may be subjected to a physical exam. Here, a doctor may feel for irregular lumps and assess the individual's lymph nodes.

If a doctor determines that cancer might be present, then he or she may order imaging tests. Perhaps the most common type of imaging test used to detect breast cancer is the mammogram. This is essentially an x-ray of the breast. A breast ultrasound, which utilizes sound waves for detection, may also be used. An MRI is also another option for testing. However, the only way to truly know if cancer is present is to conduct a biopsy, where a small sample of the suspicious area is removed and analyzed.

Though there is extensive technology and testing options to help medical professionals detect breast cancer, one's doctor still plays a pivotal role in diagnosing cancer. He or she will decide whether to order imaging tests, as well as read and interpret test results, including a biopsy. This means that there is significant room for error. A doctor's failure to diagnose can be quite serious, leading to a worsened medical condition and, maybe, a decreased chance of survival. Those who feel they have been wronged by their doctor may want to speak with a medical professional to see if a medical malpractice suit is right for them in an attempt to recover their damages.

Source: American Cancer Society, "How is breast cancer diagnosed?" accessed on March 25, 2016

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