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Testing for Breast Cancer

Tests used to diagnose and monitor patients with breast cancer may include:

  • Breast MRI to help better identify the breast lump or evaluate an abnormal change on a mammogram
  • Breast Ultrasound to show whether the lump is solid or fluid-filled
  • Breast Biopsy , using methods such as needle aspiration
  • CT scan to see if the cancer has spread
  • Mammogram to screen for breast cancer or help identify the breast lump
  • PET scan
  • Sentinal lymph node biopsy to see if the cancer has spread

Treatment of Breast Cancer

In general, cancer treatments may include:

  • Chemotherapy medicines to kill cancer cells
  • Radiation therapy to destroy cancerous tissue
  • Surgery to remove cancerous tissue -- a lumpectomy removes the breast lump; mastectomy removes all or part of the breast and possible nearby structures

Hormonal therapy is prescribed to women with ER-positive breast cancer to block certain hormones that fuel cancer growth. (Liza's Cancer was ER-Positive)

  • An example of hormonal therapy is the drug Tamoxifen. This drug blocks the effects of estrogen, which can help breast cancer cells survive and grow. Most women with estrogen-sensitive breast cancer benefit from this drug.
  • Another class of hormonal therapy medicines called aromatase inhibitors, such as exemestane(Aromasin),have been shown to work just as well or even better than tamoxifen in postmenopausal women with breast cancer. Aromatase inhibitors block estrogen from being made.

Targeted therapy, also called biologic therapy, is a newer type of cancer treatment. This therapy uses special anticancer drugs that target certain changes in a cell that can lead to cancer. One such drug is trastuzumab (Herceptin). It may be used for women with HER2-positive breast cancer.

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