Breast Cancer Diagnosis

Accurate diagnosis is essential to choosing the best treatment for your type and stage of breast cancer. If cancer is suspected in the breast tissue, our doctors will gather your medical and family history and conduct a physical examination.

Initial diagnostic tests may include:

  • Mammogram
  • Ultrasound
  • Breast magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
  • Biopsy: May be guided by touch, imaging (mammography, MRI or ultrasound) or surgically

To determine how far breast cancer has spread, your doctor may recommend one or more of the following tests:

  • Chest X-ray
  • Blood tests
  • Bone scan
  • Computed tomography (CT) scan
  • Positron emission tomography (PET) scan
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan

Fox Chase Cancer Center radiologists and pathologists specializing in breast cancer review all available diagnostic tests in order to make an informed diagnosis.


Once a tumor has been identified, a biopsy is necessary to obtain a tissue sample, which is required in order to make a diagnosis and to determine the cancer staging. In a traditional core needle biopsy, a fine needle to collect a number of tissue samples, which are then examined for cell abnormalities that are a sign of  cancer.  Fox Chase radiologists specialize in performing image-guided biopsies. Using ultrasound, CT or MRI guidance, radiologists can sample even small lesions or lesions that are difficult to access by other means, as well as biopsies on patients with complicating medical factors. All biopsies performed at Fox Chase are minimally invasive.