CAPE GIRARDEAU, MO (KFVS) - You know to get a mammogram to check for breast cancer, but if that test shows there's something there, do you know what comes next?
If your mammogram shows an abnormal mass, Dr. Olivia Aranha with Saint Francis Medical Center, said next, doctors will most likely do an auxiliary ultra sound.
She said they will look at both the mass in your breast, and look at your armpit to see if the cancer spread to your lymphnodes.
"This is an abnormal lymphnode," said Aranha.
A normal lymphnode looks more filled in, with fat, while a cancerous positive one looks darker. The cancer breaks through the outer cortex and pushes the fat out.
If it's positive, doctors will usually want a biopsy to be sure, and call for a bone and cat scan to see if it's spread anywhere else.
"Once it's found in the breast, most of them want to know the extent, they want to know if it spread anywhere, so we usually have no problem convincing them to get the auxiliary ultra sound, and it's non invasive, it's an easy bedside procedure," said Aranha.
Once you know if the cancer spread to your lymphnodes, you could know a lot. Aranha said that could mean a stage 2 or 3 of cancer.
"Another concern when we find it in the lymphnode is we worry about it spreading elsewhere," Aranha said.
She said the tumor will usually spread to the lymphnode before it goes anywhere else.
"Usually when it spreads to the lymphnode, the risk of it returning it a lot higher," said Aranha.
If it's in your lymphnodes, that's when you most likely would need chemo therapy or radiation.
But before any ultra sound, Dr. Aranah said it's still important to get your regular mammogram to see if there's an initial tumor.