Last week I extolled the virtues of early screening. But what if you find something? It could still be a benign cyst. But any abnormality detected either by mammogram or examination must be evaluated. Ultrasound and MRI are used to confirm an actual mass and rule out false alarms. If indicated, the next step is obtaining a tissue sample by inserting a needle into it for a biopsy sample. If it is small enough, it can be removed completely for testing. If cancer cells are found, they are tested for aggression and sensitivity to hormones. CT scans and blood tests are done in the “staging phase”, looking for traces of spread to other parts of the body. This is where the best treatment plan for you is determined.
What to do: However a lump is first detected, see your doctor promptly. Early treatment is critical to successful outcomes. Next week, we’ll look at advances in treatment.
Thought for the day: It’s important to get those early tests, so the outcome of treatment will be your best.
What’s Going Around is contributed by family practice doctor Kyle Scarborough, M.D. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.