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Technology for Breast Cancer Diagnosis

For many years, doctors and scientists have been looking for a cure for cancer and especially for breast cancer. A vaccine has eluded doctors for many years and they continue on their quest for finding one. Doctors are trying out new ways to improve the already existing forms of diagnoses and treatment. It has been of major concern that, the methods of diagnoses in use today have been very invasive and that they can only be used when the disease begins to show signs and symptoms. The methods of diagnoses have also been known to increase chances of developing the disease they are supposed to be diagnosing. This is because, repeated exposure to radiation could result in cancer.

Some of the methods in use today include; ultrasound, MRI, digital mammogram, duct lavage, image guided breast biopsy and PET scan. Most of these tests rely on ultra sounds, although some do not, such as MRI and PET scan. Sometimes these methods can be used together in order to give more conclusive results for breast cancer detection. For example, an ultrasound can be used together with a needle biopsy. Modern ultrasound is able to detect whether a lump is cancerous or malignant. These results can further be supported and confirmed by use of a needle biopsy.

Most of these methods are mainly advances on the old forms of diagnosis. They have been modified in order to give clearer results and also to produce results faster. For example, the old type of mammograms used x-ray film but the new types of mammograms use computer codes that can be read using a computer. It is also possible to make changes on these codes before finally printing them on film. This new method helps in giving very clear images that prove very helpful to the doctor when making interpretations of the film. The images can also be saved on the computer for comparison purposes and copies can be printed out when the need arises.

Some methods are also in use for detection of cancerous cells in the denser parts of the breast where normal methods may be unable to detect them. This method is also a type of mammogram which uses x-rays. The method focuses on areas that have growth of blood cells which could be an indicator of cancer. The process is very fast and takes less than ten minutes. However, scientists are still at work and many of the procedures are still under trial. It is hoped that in a few years, more progress will have been made and it will become possible to diagnose breast cancer earlier and help save more lives.

Diagnosis vs Prognosis - Understand The Difference

There's a great quote that can really help along your healing process: "Accept the diagnosis not the prognosis."

When my aunt was diagnosed with aggressive breast cancer, she was told to get her affairs in order because her doctors guessed that she had - at most - 18 months to live. She was told there was very little they could do for her.

Then she did something that probably shocked her doctors. She looked at her doctor and announced that she wasn't going to die any time soon. Further, she told him if he were going to have such a negative attitude, he needed to let her know now because she'd have to find another doctor as she had no plans on giving up so easily.

Was my aunt in denial?

Not at all.

Was she being difficult?

Her doctor may have thought so, but I don't.

Her personality always leaned toward the sunshine not the shadows. She liked to laugh and believed in humor.

Facing cancer is frightening, and you have to acknowledge the battle at hand, but you don't have to acknowledge (or give) cancer any more power than it needs to have.

Remember: "Accept the diagnosis not the prognosis."

This can be difficult given the inherent fear that surrounds the word "cancer". Someone recently told me that cancer is the most feared word in seven languages!

My aunt eventually passed away, but it wasn't six months later, or a year later - or even two years later.

From a cancer diagnosis and being told that near-term death was certain, she lived another 16 years! Pretty impressive considering her initial prognosis.

That's why it's important to "accept the diagnosis not the prognosis".

This begs the question, "How did she do it?"

She would tell you that a sense of humor is key. She'd say that you can't let it get you down, or if it gets you down (which it will), you can't let it keep you down.

SIDENOTE: There's scientific, biological reasons why this is important. Your brain is your own personal pharmacy. Depending on your mood, your brain makes chemicals and releases them into the body. Good mood, good chemicals. Bad mood, poisonous chemicals.

Now, my aunt wouldn't have put it that way. She'd have said, "Try to keep your sense of humor." She'd explain to you that the one thing you can control is your outlook and your perspective.

The other thing she did was to take control.

The fact that she had cancer was "a done deal". So, she took control of what she could.

She inherently understood that she was in charge of herself - not the doctors and not the cancer. She didn't worry about cancer and what it was doing. Instead, she thought about what she and her doctors could do.

She looked for answers instead of thinking about the problem.

Is it hard sometimes? Absolutely.

Is it challenging? Definitely.

Can it make a huge difference in your cancer journey? You better believe it can. In fact, my doctor credited the results I got to my attitude. (I credit my attitude about cancer, in large part, to my aunt.)

Let my aunt's story inspire you to move forward with humor and confidence in the face of cancer.

Early Diagnosis For Breast Cancer

With the advances in cancer research and an aggressive media campaign to provide breast cancer info to the general public many more women are seeking early diagnostic exams and helping to lower the instances of mortality, which breast cancer statistics are showing. However, less than 20 years ago, many more women were finding cancer diagnosis's after the cancer had taken hold and spread to other organs, and limiting the chances of surviving the initial disease.

One of the steps in an early diagnosis of this cancer is self-examination. The techniques used to find small abnormalities in the breast are making a great difference for many women. Finding these small lumps in the breast can greatly increase the efficacy of the least invasive surgeries and limit the need for some breast cancer medication. Although these medications have been refined there are still debilitating side effects, so early detection in most cases limits their use and greatly improves the overall health of women diagnosed with cancer.

Self examination training can be found on many medical websites but it is best to talk to your doctor and learn the correct procedures. Women also need to know to look for more than just lumps. Any change in the shape or size of the breasts must also be noted and can only be detected if the self-exam is conducted on a regular basis.

One of the ways to do this is to stand in front of a mirror, with arms relaxed at your sides. Now, look at both breasts, but don't be alarmed if they are slightly different in size, most women's breasts are not identical. Look for changes like puckering around the nipples, differences in color, or sores. Now, bend forward facing the mirror and roll your shoulders and elbows forward to tighten your chest muscles and look for changes in contour. Do the same looking at each side carefully for these abnormalities.

Once you have visually checked your breasts and noted any changes or problems identified above, it is time to feel for thickening or lumps under the skin. For the best results, it is best to have your doctor explain all the steps to make sure you are doing this part of the exam correctly. In all cases the technique and steps are paramount in finding cancer early.

Finding a lump or other abnormalities doesn't always indicate that cancer is present. Women of all ages can find benign fibrous tumors or cysts caused by any number of reasons. However, only through a doctor's evaluation can these be determined. And if cancer is the diagnosis there have been huge advances in breast cancer medication and treatments that have saved thousands of lives. The most important factor in cancer survival rates is seeking medical treatment as soon as possible. The earlier that treatment can take place the better the overall chances for survival and in many cases total remission.

Early diagnosis does begin with the individual and with the internet there is reliable breast cancer info to be found. And if one is to research further they will find that breast cancer statistics have greatly improved in the areas of mortality over the last 10 to 15 years. This is good news for thousands of women and their families and a triumph for the doctors and researchers that have worked tirelessly to prevent early death from cancer.