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Diagnosing Breast Cancer

At Dignity Health, we combine the latest diagnostic technology with the expertise of our physicians. Our goal is a precise and accurate diagnosis, so we can plan the most effective course of cancer treatment.

Your doctor will begin your diagnosis by asking you about your medical history and symptoms.

Other diagnostic procedures your doctor may order:

Breast Exam

Your doctor will perform a physical examination of your breasts, looking for any lumps or abnormalities. Your doctor may ask you to pick your arms up in order to check the breasts from different positions.


A mammogram is an X-ray of your breasts. You may have undergone a mammogram previously as part of the breast cancer screening process. A diagnostic mammogram will examine your breasts more closely.

Breast Ultrasound

Ultrasound uses sound waves to produce detailed pictures of the inside of your body. If your doctor felt a lump, he or she may use an ultrasound to determine if it is a cyst or a solid mass.

Breast Biopsy

During a biopsy, your doctor removes a sample of breast tissue and sends it to a pathology lab for analysis. Biopsy can offer a definitive diagnosis of cancer.

Breast Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)

MRI uses powerful magnetic waves to create detailed images of your breast. Usually, during a breast MRI, you receive an injection of dye. The dye helps create a contrast between normal and abnormal breast tissue. A breast MRI can give your doctor an idea of how far the cancer has spread.