No matter how your breast lump was discovered, the
doctor will want to begin with your "history": What symptoms do you
have and how long have you had them? What is your age, menstrual
status, general health? Are you pregnant? Are you taking any
medications? How many children do you have? Do you have any
relatives with benign breast conditions or breast cancer? Have you
previously been diagnosed with benign breast changes?
The doctor will then carefully examine your breasts and will
probably schedule you for mammography. If you have a symptom
suggestive of breast cancer, whether it was found through BSE, the
annual exam, or by chance, you should not hesitate to have a
mammogram if your doctor recommends it.
Mammography for diagnosis, as distinct from mammography for
screening women who have no symptoms, is designed to obtain as much
information as possible about an existing change. This may be
either a lump that can be felt or an abnormality discovered on a
screening mammogram. Diagnostic mammography may include additional
views or use special techniques to magnify a suspicious area or to
eliminate shadows produced by overlapping layers of normal breast
tissue. The doctor will want to compare the diagnostic mammograms
with any previous mammograms. If the lump appears to be a cyst,
your doctor may ask you to have a sonogram (ultrasound study).