Here are some of the important tests used to diagnose breast cancer:


Diagnostic mammogram is a special kind of x-ray; a mammogram can often detect breast lumps before they can be felt by you or your doctor. A mammogram can also give a good picture of calcium deposits in your breast, which are another possible indication of early breast cancer.


Ultrasound uses high-frequency sound waves to make images of your organs and other structures in your body. It may be used to examine a breast lump or abnormality found during a clinical breast examination or mammogram, determine if a breast lump is a solid tumour or a fluid-filled cyst and/or find an abnormal area for a biopsy.


Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) is occasionally done if a tumour does not show up well on a mammogram, or if the breast tissue is very dense. This is not routinely used due to a high rate of false positive results.


Biopsy is a procedure that is done when your doctor suspects you may have a tumourmalignant or benign. To confirm this, a sample of your breast tissue needs to be examined. A biopsy removes a bit of the tumour and surrounding tissue using one of several methods: fine needle aspiration, core biopsy, mammotome biopsy, and incisional or excisional biopsy. Core biopsy of the lump or thickening is the standard way. 


Other less commonly used imaging:

Ductography is an x-ray procedure that is sometimes used to help determine the cause of nipple discharge. It’s used to look at the breast ducts and help diagnose other breast conditions. Ductography may be used with diagnostic mammography. It is not used instead of mammograms to diagnose breast cancer.

Scintimammography uses a radioactive material (known as a radioactive isotope) and a special camera to take pictures of the breast. This test is done to check breast lumps that do not show clearly on a mammogram.