Those patients requiring surgery for breast cancer may also need to receive certain exams before their treatment. The doctor will try to establish the cancer’s stage at the time of diagnosis, and this process is often referred to as “staging.”
Staging exams help doctors understand if the cancer has spread, and if so, to what areas. By staging before an operation, doctors can establish the best course of action to treat the cancer.
There are 4 grades (stages) of breast cancer ranging from 0 to 4. The higher the number, the more severe the cancer. In order to establish the grade of the cancer, doctors use the staging process which helps them establish:
- The exact location of the tumour
- The size of the tumour
- Whether the cancer is invasive or not
- Whether the cancer has spread to other areas, including lymph nodes
Based on the results of the staging your physician can establish what stage your cancer is in. Staging and pre-operative exams are available on-site at VM-Med and include:
- During this procedure a physician applies local anaesthetic and uses ultrasound, mammography or IRM imaging to guide and insert a thin wire into the area of the breast where the tumour is located. The surgeon can then use this wire to guide them to the tumour during surgery. Once the operation is completed the wire is removed. The procedure usually takes five to ten minutes.
- Lymphoscintigraphy (Sentinel node imaging)
- A Lymphoscintigraphy is a specialized nuclear medicine exam. This procedure helps doctors identify the location of the sentinel node in order to remove all or portions of it for biopsy. During a lymphoscintigraphy, a small amount of radioactive tracer is injected into the patient prior to surgery. Using a scintigraphy machine a technologist takes images of the area and may mark the area for the surgeon. The surgeon also uses a probe that detects the radioactivity in the nodes to help locate and remove the nodes.
- Blood tests
- Chest x-ray
- Abdominal or pelvic ultrasound
- Bone scan
- CT scant
- PET scan
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