Breast Diagnostics

A biopsy is done when mammograms, other imaging tests or a physical exam shows a breast change that may be cancer. A biopsy is the only way to know for sure whether tissue is cancerous.

During a biopsy, a tiny sample (biopsy specimen) of the suspicious area is removed and examined under a microscope. If your doctor confirms a cancer diagnosis, he or she will then determine the stage of the cancer. The stage of a cancer helps identify how advanced the cancer is and how best to treat it. We offer two forms of breast biopsy:

  • Stereotactic breast biopsy — During a stereotactic breast biopsy, your breast will be gently compressed between two plates. A mammogram is used to produce stereo images (images of the same area from different angles) to determine the exact location for the biopsy. A sample of breast tissue in the area of concern is then removed with a needle.
  • MRI-guided biopsy — An MRI-guided breast biopsy uses a powerful magnetic field, radio waves and a computer to help locate a breast lump or abnormality and guide a needle to remove a tissue sample for examination under a microscope. It does not use ionizing radiation and leaves little to no scarring.

Breast magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) uses magnetic fields to create an image of the breast. It is more invasive than mammography because a contrast agent is given through an IV before the procedure.

A breast ultrasound uses sound waves to make images of the breast. This test is noninvasive and often used as a follow-up test after an abnormal finding on a mammogram, breast MRI or clinical breast exam. If a needle biopsy is needed, a breast ultrasound may also be used to help guide the procedure.

A breast cyst is a fluid-filled sac inside the breast. Breast cysts are common in women, and are usually benign (noncancerous). Painful cysts can be aspirated (drained) with a thin needle for relief of symptoms.

Certain breast cancer treatments can speed up bone loss or cause you to lose bone density. For this reason, a bone density test to assess bone health is important. 

A dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DEXA) scan is the most commonly used test for measuring bone mineral density. It is one of the most accurate ways predict a risk of bone fractures and to diagnosis osteoporosis. 

DEXA bone density scans are recommended if you have risk factors such as:

  • You’re a woman over age 65 or a man over age 70
  • You’re a woman under age 65 or a man ages 50–70 who has risk factors such as a bone fracture caused by normal activities, chronic rheumatoid arthritis, chronic kidney disease, eating disorders or early menopause. 
  • A history of hormone treatment for prostate cancer or breast cancer
  • Significant loss of height 
  • Smoking
  • A strong family history of osteoporosis
  • Taking corticosteroid medications (prednisone, methylprednisolone) every day for more than three months
  • Three or more drinks of alcohol a day on most days

We provide care that’s personal and supportive in a comfortable environment designed to make your appointments as efficient and stress-free as possible. We work closely with you and your doctor to address any questions you may have about diagnostic testing and breast cancer, and provide information on risk factors and prevention for your future breast health. From breast ultrasounds to MRI-guided breast biopsies, we’re here for all your breast care needs.

Comprehensive breast services close to home

As part of our commitment to providing the highest quality breast care to our community, we offer the following diagnostic services: