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    Diagnosing Noncancerous (Benign) Breast Conditions

    How are benign breast conditions and infections diagnosed?

    To diagnose a breast condition, your healthcare provider will take your complete health history. Your provider may also:

    • Do a complete physical exam to:

      • Locate any lump and feel its features (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 exam or mammography

    • Request a lab microscopic exam of nipple discharge if there is nipple discharge other than breastmilk

    • Request a ductogram X-ray or MRI ductogram of the nipples if there is nipple discharge other than breastmilk

    • Consider a hormonal evaluation if the nipple discharge is milky

    • Request a biopsy of tissue removed from the suspicious area

    What are the different types of biopsy?

    Image-guided biopsies. Those aided by ultrasound or other imaging techniques, including:

    • Fine needle aspiration (FNA). A very fine or thin needle is guided into the suspicious area. A small sample of the tissue is removed.

    • Core needle biopsy. A larger needle is guided into the lump to remove a small core (cylinder) of tissue.

    Surgical biopsy. A surgical procedure is used to remove all or part of a lump.

    Online Medical Reviewer: Freeborn, Donna, PhD, CNM, FNP
    Online Medical Reviewer: Horowitz, Diane, MD
    Date Last Reviewed: 10/1/2017
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