If you find a lump or a change in your breast is seen on a mammogram, a biopsy may be needed to know what’s causing it. A biopsy is when a piece of tissue is taken out and tested in the lab. A biopsy is the only way to know if a suspicious breast change is cancer.

The American Cancer Society does a great job of explaining important aspects to those who are given a recommendation for a breast biopsy. The first important aspect:

Not all breast changes are cancer.

If you find changes or something unusual in one of your breasts, it’s important to see a health care provider as soon as possible. Some breast changes are not felt as lumps but are seen on a screening mammogram instead.

Either type of breast change might need further testing, such as a breast biopsy, but keep in mind that most breast changes are not cancer. Just because your provider wants you to have a biopsy does not mean you have breast cancer. In fact, most biopsy results are not cancer. But the only way to know for sure is to take out and test tissue from the suspicious area of the breast.

Non-cancerous (benign) breast conditions are very common, and they are never life threatening. These are some of the more common benign breast changes.

Other key points to remember:

  • A biopsy is the only way to know for sure if a breast change is cancer.
  • There are many different ways to do a breast biopsy.
  • While it’s hard to go through the emotions and uncertainties that often come with a breast biopsy, try to learn as much as you can about what’s going on and get the support you need.
  • Regular breast cancer screening can help find breast cancer early – when it’s small, has not spread, and is easier to treat.

These are the American Cancer Society’s recommendations for the early detection of breast cancer in women at average risk for developing breast cancer:

  • Women between 40 and 44 have the option to start screening with a mammogram every year.
  • Women 45 to 54 should get mammograms every year.
  • Women 55 and older can switch to a mammogram every other year, or they can choose to continue yearly mammograms. Screening should continue as long as a woman is in good health and is expected to live at least 10 more years.
  • All women should be familiar with how their breasts normally look and feel and report any changes to a health care provider right away.
  • All women should understand what to expect when getting a mammogram for breast cancer screening – what the test can and cannot do.
  • Some women at high risk for breast cancer – because of their family history, a genetic tendency, or certain other factors – should be screened with MRIs along with mammograms. The number of women who fall into this category is very small. Talk with a health care provider about your risk for breast cancer and the best screening plan for you.

Diagnostic Imaging Services performs ultrasound-guided, stereotactic and MRI-guided breast biopsy exams at our East Bank facility in Metairie. Click here to learn more about all of the services provided in the area of women’s health.

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