Q. What happens during a mammogram?
A. During a mammogram the breast is compressed between two plates to flatten and spread out the breast tissue. Although the pressure may cause some discomfort for a few moments, it is needed to get a good picture of the inside of your breast. Very low levels of radiation are used for mammograms and do not significantly increase your risk of breast cancer.
Q: Does a mammogram hurt?
A: During the process of obtaining a accurate mammogram, the breast has to be compressed. Some women feel this is uncomfortable. However, our mammography technologists are very experienced and keep the time the breast is compressed to a minimum.
Breast lumps or pain
Q. What should I do if I find a lump in my breast or have breast pain?
A. Call your doctor and explain your concerns. Your doctor may want to see you for an appointment. Together with you, your doctor will decide what action should be taken.
Q: The radiologist recommended a biopsy. Does that mean I have cancer?
A: No. If the radiologist has concerns after looking at your mammogram and ultrasound films, he or she will suggest further testing. Many women have biopsies; this does not mean they all have cancer.
Q. What is a core biopsy?
A. A core biopsy is a nonsurgical method of obtaining small tissue samples from the breast. Samples are sent for pathological testing for breast cancer.
Q. How is a core biopsy done?
A. Your doctor may use mammography or ultrasound to see the area of concern in your breast. During the procedure you will either lie on your back (ultrasound core biopsy) or on your stomach (stereotatic core biopsy) on a specially designed table. Images of your breast will be taken and you will be given a local anesthetic, Lidocaine (similar to what your dentist would give you for a filling), to minimize discomfort.
The radiologist will make a small incision into the breast tissue and will use a probe to obtain small samples. Typically, 6 to 10 core samples are taken. They are then sent to pathology for testing.
When the radiologist is finished taking tissue samples, the probe will be removed and gentle pressure will be applied to your breast. A Steri-strip is placed across the small incision. A gauze bandage will be placed over the Steri-strip and a bandage will be wrapped around your breasts to minimize bruising.
Q. How long does the core biopsy take?
A. The biopsy sampling takes about 15 to 20 minutes per area. We usually allow 1 ½ to 2 hours for your appointment.
Q. Can I have someone with me during the procedure?
A. Throughout your biopsy procedure, the radiologist and technologist concentrate on you and your needs. Although some prefer to bring a friend or family member for support, we will ask them to remain in the waiting area.
Q. How will I find out my results?
A. Your breast core biopsy results will be faxed to your doctor’s office as soon as the tests have been completed. This typically occurs within 3 business days.
Q. Do I need someone to drive me home after the core biopsy?
A. It depends on your comfort level. Some women drive themselves to and from the appointment. Other women bring a friend or family member for moral support.
Q. Will my activities be restricted after a core biopsy?
A. We ask you not to perform any strenuous activity for 48 hours after your biopsy. While most women feel they can resume normal activities, it's best to avoid heavy lifting and rigorous activity.
Q. Can I go back to work after the core biopsy?
A. Many women are able to return to work after the procedure and perform light duties. The day of your procedure, it's best not to do any lifting or anything strenuous. This gives the small incision time to heal.
Q. How do I know when the incision has healed?
A. Leave the Steri-strip in place for up to one week or until it falls off. The ends of the Steri-strip tape will curl up and fall off. The incision should be healed at that time.
You may also have some bruising. This is normal and will subside with time.
Breast surgery, reconstruction
Q: When is reconstruction done?
A: Reconstruction is preformed by a plastic surgeon and can be done at the time of initial cancer surgery or at a later time. There are many different types of reconstruction. A plastic surgeon can help decide which is best for you.
Q: How long does it take to recover from breast surgery?
A: Recovery time depends on the person and the type of surgical procedure. A lumpectomy is usually a same-day surgery with no overnight hospital stay. A mastectomy usually requires at least one night stay in the hospital. Those who opt for reconstruction stay 2 to 3 days.
Q: How do I get the results from surgery?
A: The surgeon will discuss the pathology results with you.
Q: Will I need chemotherapy?
A: The answer to this will not be known until you meet with a medical oncologist. Some women have chemotherapy before surgery to shrink the size of the tumor. Others have chemotherapy after surgery. Some do not have any chemotherapy.
Q: Will my cancer come back?
A: There is no one single cure for cancer. Your health care team will do everything possible to make sure that your breast cancer is treated. It is very important to have regular check-ups with your medical doctors.
Q: Will my daughter get breast cancer, too?
A: Most women do not have a hereditary form of breast cancer. An inherited gene mutation (BRCA1 and BRCA2) account for only 5 to 10% of all cases of breast cancer. If you have concerns about your family history, talk to your health care team. Find out about our Cancer Genetics Clinic.