A port is a prosthetic device which helps us to administer chemotherapy in a convenient, predictable and safe manner. A port consists of a reservoir compartment (the portal) that has a silicone bubble for needle insertion (the septum), with an attached plastic tube (the catheter). The device is surgically inserted under the skin in the upper chest or in the arm and appears as a bump under the skin.
Bilateral breast mammography is carried out to look for lesions in the suspected breast and to rule out a problem in the other breast. Quite often, a routine screening mammogram may be able to pick up a suspicious lesion before it is even palpable.
It is done along with a mammogram and is especially useful in younger women who have denser breasts. A lesion deemed suspicious on the mammogram is further studied using ultrasound before coming to a probable diagnosis. Mammography and ultrasonography have a staging system called BIRADS, which adheres to international standards set for radiologists worldwide.
Breast MRIs are increasingly being used in younger patients, women with breast implants, those with symptoms of abnormal nipple discharge and a few other select conditions where the doctor deems it necessary.
FNAC (FINE NEEDLE ASPIRATION CYTOLOGY)
A thin needle is used to draw out a few cells from the lump and these are then examined by the pathologist under a microscope. A positive test indicates that the lump may be cancerous. However we confirm the diagnosis by performing a core biopsy.
In this test, a slightly thicker needle is used to draw out cores of tissue from the lump. This test gives a confirmative diagnosis in the majority of patients. This test is of even greater value in patients who will require neoadjuvant chemotherapy (i.e. chemotherapy before surgery) as it provides us with information regarding the type of the carcinoma and the specific targets available for therapy.
A PET CT gives us information about the size, activity and location of the primary tumour as well as any metastatic spread. It is currently a precise tool for assessment of the stage of the disease before commencing treatment. In patients with metastatic disease, a PET CT is used to assess response to therapy.