Breast Cancer Screening and Diagnosis
At Mount Sinai, we offer our patients comprehensive and accurate diagnostic technologies for managing breast health and detecting breast cancer— from mammography and breast MRI to image-guided biopsies. In addition, our genetic counseling services can help you assess your risk for developing breast cancer and implement good prevention habits.
Types of Breast Exams
Our comprehensive breast imaging services include the following:
- 3D Mammography is a low dose digital mammography, also known as tomosynthesis that allows for earlier and more accurate breast cancer diagnosis.
- Breast Ultrasound evaluates problems that may be found during a physical exam, screening, or mammogram.
- Breast MRI produces clear, highly detailed images of breast tissue use magnets and radio waves (as opposed to x-rays).
- Bone scan detects areas where abnormal bone growth may indicate tumors, fractures, or infection, used when your doctor suspects that a breast cancer has spread.
- Mammography is an x-ray exam of the breast. It can be performed for women with no symptoms to screen for possible abnormalities, and for women with symptoms to help diagnose a suspected problem.
- Multiple-gated acquisition (MUGA) scan evaluates how well your heart pumps and moves blood around your body, usually performed before chemotherapy, and repeated through the course of chemotherapy to treat breast cancer.
- PET/CT scan is a sensitive technique that takes 3D images of your body to help detect areas where breast cancer may have spread, known as cancer metastases
Types of Biopsies
To accurately diagnose the suspicious area, the medical team may perform a breast biopsy by making a small incision, removing a sampling of cells, and examining them under a microscope. Your medical team may choose to have you remain awake during the biopsy under a local anesthetic. There are various types of breast biopsies, including:
- Stereotactic breast biopsy is conducted with a special mammography machine that uses ionizing radiation to guide the radiologist’s instruments to the location of the growth.
- Ultrasound-guided breast biopsy is done as ultrasound imaging guides the radiologist's instruments to the location of the growth.
- MRI-guided breast biopsy uses magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) that guides the interventional radiologist’s instruments to the location of the growth.
Fine Needle Aspiration
When a lump in your breast is obvious to the touch and easily located, it is possible for your doctor to use a fine needle aspiration to feel the texture of the lump with the needle and extract the smallest amount of breast tissue to examine the cells for diagnosis.
Pathology and Staging
Using advanced laboratory tests to diagnose breast cancer, our experienced pathologists will next determine the level of cancer in your body by identifying the cancer stage. Like other cancers, breast cancer is staged from I-IV. Stage I is a very localized cancer, while stage IV indicates a spread to other parts of the body. In addition, your diagnosis may include letter designations, such as T for tumor, M for metastases, and NO for no lymph nodes with cancer.
The important thing for you to keep in mind about the stage used to identify your cancer is that it will help guide your treatment options. The stage does not define your prognosis. Your doctor always will discuss with you your options and prognosis for your specific type of breast cancer and your prognosis for recovery and survival.
Mount Sinai offers genetic counseling services at several locations including Dubin Breast Center, Mount Sinai West, and Mount Sinai Downtown Chelsea Center to help assess your personal breast cancer risk. During the process of determining how to screen you for breast cancer, the doctors will not only consider your medical history, but also your family’s medical history. If your family has a history of breast cancer, this may be considered a strong risk factor for you. To understand your genetic risks of developing cancer and to discover ways to help reduce your risk, you may choose to participate in a genetic counseling program that may or may not include genetic testing. You may want to discuss this option with your doctor before scheduling genetic counseling by calling our main number at 1-844-MD-CANCER.