Health Library Explorer
A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z A-Z Listings
A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
Click a letter to see a list of conditions beginning with that letter.
Click 'Topic Index' to return to the index for the current topic.
Click 'Library Index' to return to the listing of all topics.

Diagnosing Noncancerous (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:

  • Perform 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.

Online Medical Reviewer: Freeborn, Donna, PhD, CNM, FNP
Online Medical Reviewer: Horowitz, Diane, MD
Date Last Reviewed: 10/1/2017
© 2000-2017 The StayWell Company, LLC. 800 Township Line Road, Yardley, PA 19067. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.