Mary’s doctor calls to give her the results of her mammogram. The doctor says, “It’s not normal, and I think we need to biopsy the area in question.” Mary’s first thought is, “Could this be breast cancer?” When she asks, the doctor explains that a biopsy (taking out and testing tissue from the suspicious area of the breast) is the only way to find out.
Another woman, Peg, just found a lump in her breast. She knows that the lump wasn’t there last month. Her first thought: “I probably should see the doctor about this, but I’m pretty sure it isn’t cancer.”
Women react in different ways when they find out that something may be wrong with their breasts. Whatever their feelings and thoughts, at some point most women want to know more about what’s happening.
Women who have had breast lumps, suspicious mammograms, and breast biopsies helped write this. They have gone through something much like what you may be going through now.
Here we will explain the basics of benign (non-cancer) breast conditions, diagnostic tests (such as different types of biopsies), and breast cancer. You’ll also learn more about coping with your concerns and fears, and where to find emotional support. The information here should not take the place of talking to your doctor or nurse. There are many details that we cannot cover here, so in each section there’s a list of questions that you might want to discuss with your doctor and nurse.
We will explain many medical terms that you may hear during testing and diagnosis. As you learn these terms, you’ll better understand what is being said to you. Knowing what these terms mean can help you as you talk with your health care team. We also have a Breast Cancer Dictionary that many women and their doctors find very helpful. Call us at 1-800-227-2345 for a free copy.