Diagnostic tests for metastatic breast cancer
A number of different kinds of tests can be used to detect breast cancer or metastatic tumors elsewhere in the body. They are often combined to get a more accurate . The treatment approach can then be chosen based on the outcomes of the tests.
Your doctor is the first person to go to if you suspect you might have breast cancer, or if you think it has become worse or come back again. This might be your family doctor, your gynecologist or a specialist for outpatient cancer treatment. Different types of tests might be needed, depending on your symptoms. Your doctor might examine you or refer you to a hospital or specialized breast cancer center.
A breast cancer center is a specialized hospital department or several specialized departments that work together. In Germany, special “certified” breast cancer centers examine and treat people who have cancer according to special criteria to ensure high quality care. Specialists working in breast cancer centers include gynecologists, psycho-oncologists, nurses and other medical professionals.
Before any examination the doctor will always ask you about your symptoms, your general state of health and medical history.
It is important that the doctor takes the time to explain the following things:
- Why the examination needs to be done
- How it is done and what can be found out by doing it
- Whether it is associated with any risks or side effects (e.g. exposure to radiation or a wound after minor surgery)
- What other kinds of examinations are possible
- What can be done if you decide not to have the examinations
- When you will get the results and discuss them
You always have the right to refuse any of the tests.
The examinations and staging approach listed here are those described in the latest, German-language, breast cancer clinical practice guideline issued by the German Cancer Society and the German Society of Gynecology and Obstetrics. Clinical practice guidelines act as decision aids for doctors and patients. They aim to help guarantee that treatment is the best it can be and quality-assured. Evidence-based guidelines will ideally be based on the results of good-quality research.