Diagnosing 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.
Sign Up for Our Free Newsletter
One of the best things you can do to protect and improve your health is to stay informed. Your Health is a FREE e-newsletter that serves as your smart, simple connection to the world-class expertise of Johns Hopkins.