Tests and diagnosis

By Mayo Clinic Staff

During the physical exam, your doctor will check both breasts for lumps and other problems. Depending on your age and the characteristics of the lump, your doctor may recommend one or more of the following tests:

  • Diagnostic mammography. Mammography uses X-rays to produce an image (mammogram) of suspicious areas in your breast tissue. A fibroadenoma usually appears on a mammogram as a breast mass with smooth, round edges, distinct from surrounding breast tissue.
  • Breast ultrasound. If you're younger than age 30, your doctor may recommend breast ultrasound instead of a mammogram to evaluate a breast lump. Dense breast tissue in younger women makes mammograms difficult to interpret.

    If you're younger than 30 and have a lump that can be felt, you'll likely start with an ultrasound to evaluate the lump and then have a diagnostic mammogram if needed to further assess the lump. If you're older than 30, you'll likely have a diagnostic mammogram of both breasts followed by an ultrasound to assess the lump.

    Breast ultrasound can help your doctor determine whether a breast lump is solid or filled with fluid. A solid mass is more likely a fibroadenoma, and a fluid-filled mass is more likely a cyst.

  • Fine-needle aspiration. Through a thin needle inserted into your breast, your doctor attempts to withdraw the contents of the breast lump. If fluid comes out, the lump is most likely a cyst.
  • Core needle biopsy. Based on your physical exam and breast imaging findings, your doctor may recommend a core needle biopsy. This test uses a larger needle than the one used in fine-needle aspiration to collect tissue samples from the lump, which go to a lab for analysis.
May 02, 2014