The diagnosis determines the type of treatment. Visit the information pages below to get an overview about the most common diagnostic methods to detect breast cancer.
Determining exactly what kind of tumor it is (benign or malignant) is essential to selecting the best possible treatment.
Mammography is a diagnostic tool that uses X-rays to examine the breast. It is the most common method for detecting breast cancer and discovers even very small, early-stage tumors that cannot be felt by touch.
While classic mammography is only able to deliver two-dimensional images of the breast, newly developed tomosynthesis (tomo = “layer”) uses X-rays to take 3D images.
Ultrasound, a supplement to mammography, uses high-frequency sound waves that travel through tissue. The examination is completely painless and there is no exposure to radiation. Ultrasound is particularly well suited for women with dense breast tissue.
Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) produces an image of the inside of the breast by using magnetic fields. The scan is X-ray free and thus particularly suitable for younger women with a genetic risk who have to be examined more frequently.
If suspicious findings are detected, they must be carefully analyzed. This is accomplished with microscopic analysis of a tissue sample (biopsy). The quick, outpatient procedure causes minimal injury at the insertion point.
Scanning for metastases is of great importance for planning further treatment. It usually consists of X-rays of the lungs and chest, scintigraphy (nuclear medicine examination) of the bones, and an ultrasound of the liver.
The characteristics of the tumor cell itself reveal a “timetable” of the cancer, providing important indicators about the course of the disease.