In addition to obtaining a complete medical history, your health care provider, in diagnosing a breast condition, may:
Perform a complete physical examination to:
Locate any lump and feel its characteristics (for example, texture, size, and relationship to the skin and chest muscles).
Look for changes in the nipples or the skin of the breast.
Check lymph nodes under the arm and above the collarbones.
Request imaging tests, including:
Diagnostic mammography to look for masses and calcifications.
Breast ultrasound to further evaluate information from the physical examination or mammography.
If there is discharge, other than breast milk, from the nipples, request a laboratory microscopic examination of the discharge.
If there is discharge, other than breast milk, from the nipples, request a ductogram X-ray of the nipples.
Request a biopsy of tissue removed from the suspicious area.
Image-guided biopsies. Those aided by ultrasound or other imaging techniques, including:
Fine needle aspiration. A very fine (thin) needle is guided into the suspicious area and a small sample of the tissue is removed.
Core needle biopsy. A larger needle is guided into the lump to remove a small cylinder (core) of tissue.
Surgical biopsy. A surgical procedure is used to remove all or part of a lump.