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Most recurrences are diagnosed because of symptoms noticed by the woman. While scans used to be done to look for early metastases, that approach has been found to make no difference in the outcome. Diagnosing metastatic disease early on a scan or blood test does not make the treatment easier or more effective. This means you do not have to kick yourself for not complaining sooner. Symptoms appear differently in different areas of the body.


Ultrasound uses a high-frequency sound wave to create a picture of the inside of the breast. A gel is put on the breast to make it slippery and to make sure that air doesn't interfere with the sound waves passing to and from the tissue being examined, and a small device (a transducer) is slid along the skin to send sound waves to the imaging machine to create a picture. If you had a sonogram while you were pregnant, your doctor was sending sound waves to your uterus to get a picture of the baby.


If a clinical breast exam identifies a breast lump, calcifications that look suspicious are seen on a mammogram, or an ultrasound or MRI identifies an area that looks abnormal, typically the next step is a biopsy.

A biopsy is a sample of cells or tissue. The biopsy is sent to a cytologist or pathologist who will look at it closely under a microscope and may also perform tests on the cells to learn more about them.


Thermography, also known as digital infrared imaging, is based on the theory that because tumors require their own blood supply and thus make a lot of blood vessels, they will look different than regular tissue during thermography.

The Normal Breast

One of the most remarkable things about the breast is it is the only organ you are not born with. You are born with a nipple and lots of potential: stemcells behind the nipple that have the capacity of becoming breast ducts given the right hormonal stimulation.