If you're reading this article as an American woman, we have a sobering statistic to share with you. Your chances of developing breast cancer at some point in your life stand at 1 in 8.
Breast cancer is the most common cancer American women are likely to develop. This highlights the utmost importance of breast cancer tests. They can screen, diagnose, and monitor breast cancer.
What's the gold standard of breast cancer screening? What are the best lab tests to use? Let's take a look at what's available.
Lab Tests for Breast Cancer
Lab tests for breast cancer identify levels of different substances in the blood. In detecting breast cancer, the three following tests are significant:
Cancer antigen 15-3 is always naturally present in the blood. However, if levels are increased, this can show the presence of cancer. It is also helpful in monitoring breast cancer after treatment.
Cancer antigen 27.29 is a tumor marker. Levels of this antigen can predict the likelihood of breast cancer recurring in women who have had treatment.
BRCAvantage™, Comprehensive is a proprietary test that can identify gene markers in women who have an increased risk of breast cancer. A positive result does not mean that you have cancer. It may mean that you are at a higher risk of developing breast cancer.
The Importance of Lab Tests
Breast cancer is usually diagnosed after a patient undergoes a mammogram. A patient may report breast pain or notice a lump, and a doctor may order a mammogram. At other times, a routine screening mammogram may show that further tests are needed.
Lab tests are vital in breast cancer detection. They are the only way to diagnose breast cancer accurately. A biopsy removes a sample of breast tissue for testing. If there are cancer cells present, it will show the type of cancer and the rate of growth.
There are common types of breast cancer lab tests that your doctor will order. They are the hormone receptor test and the HER2/neu test. These tests can help to show which treatment options are most suitable for you.
What Is Breast Cancer?
Breast cancer occurs when cancer forms in breast tissue. Although men can also develop breast cancer, it's far more common in women. The cancer cells divide rapidly and form a lump or mass in the breast.
A breast cancer diagnosis will also include further tests. These will check whether cancer has spread to other parts of the body. Most commonly, secondary tumor cells are found in the lymph nodes.
It's true that breast cancer is common, but early diagnosis and treatment lead to a 99% survival rate at five years after diagnosis.
If you notice any changes in your breasts, not just lumps, it's important to go for breast cancer tests. Routine breast cancer screening can detect the disease before you have any symptoms.
Risk Factors and Causes of Breast Cancer
Breast cancer occurs due to a number of factors. Some of the risk factors include a person's genetics. The BRCA1 and BRCA2 gene mutations significantly increase the risk of developing breast cancer.
Additionally, there are other risk factors, including:
- being female
- family history of breast cancer
- exposure to radiation
- sedentary lifestyle
- drinking alcohol
- using tobacco
- starting period before the age of 12
- starting menopause late
- never having been pregnant
- hormone replacement therapy
It's clear from this list that it's impossible to avoid many of the risk factors of breast cancer. That's why breast cancer screening is so important.
Women over the age of 40 should discuss when to start breast cancer screening with their doctor. Women between 50-74 who are at average risk should get tested every two years.
There are some risk factors in our control. Maintain a healthy weight and exercise regularly. Avoiding alcohol and tobacco will also help to reduce your risk.
Signs and Symptoms of Breast Cancer
The first signs women notice are usually changes in their breast or breasts. This could include:
- feeling a lump or thickening
- change in size, shape, or appearance
- skin changes
- nipple becomes inverted
- changes to the areola (pigmented skin around the nipple)
- redness or pitting of skin on the breast
If you notice any of these symptoms, immediately contact your doctor.
There are also other symptoms of breast cancer to be aware of. Symptoms include swelling in your arm, under your armpit, or around the collar bone. Talk to your doctor if you notice any of these.
With early-stage breast cancer, you may not be in pain. Lumps are often not painful. You may be suffering from tiredness, unexplained weight loss, or appetite loss.
Frequently Asked Questions about Breast Cancer and Lab Testing for Breast Cancer
Anyone with a diagnosis of breast cancer wants the best possible treatment. Breast cancer lab tests are a crucial part of ongoing breast cancer monitoring and treatment.
Some of the most frequently asked questions about breast cancer and breast cancer lab tests include:
- What is the stage of my breast cancer?
- What treatment options are available?
- Has cancer spread to other parts of my body?
- What are the side effects of cancer treatment?
- Can lab test help to monitor my cancer?
- When should I start screening for breast cancer?
Your doctor and specialist cancer doctor will be able to discuss these and other questions you may have with you. Lab tests are an important part of the decision-making in the early stages of treating the disease.
Breast cancer lab tests help doctors to identify certain tumor markers in the blood. This can help them to see whether cancer has spread to other parts of the body.
Lab tests can also show whether the cancer is responding to treatment. They can also show whether cancer has come back.
Having breast cancer lab tests is just the first step. To understand the tests, it's vital to review them with your doctor. They will recommend the next steps to get you on the road to recovery.
Time to Order Your Breast Cancer Tests
If breast cancer tests have shown that you have breast cancer, further help is at hand. Breast cancer lab tests are vital for doctors to ensure that you get the best treatment. They will help your doctors to monitor and treat you long-term.
What are the benefits of breast cancer lab tests from Ulta Lab Tests? Ulta Lab Tests offers tests that are highly accurate and reliable so that you can make informed decisions about your health.
- Secure and Confidential Results
- No Insurance or Referral Needed
- Affordable Pricing including Doctor's Order
- 100% Satisfaction Guarantee
Order your breast cancer lab test today. Your results will be provided to you securely and confidentially online in 24 to 48 hours for most tests.
Take charge of your health and track your progress with Ulta Lab Tests.