The discovery of a breast mass, either self-detected or identified by a clinician, is a common, often distressing occurrence for many women. Although most detected breast masses are benign, every woman presenting with a breast mass should be evaluated to exclude or establish a diagnosis of cancer. This article provides a succinct over-view of normal breast anatomy and reviews common causes of breast masses. The role of the clinical breast examination is discussed, and an algorithm is provided for optimal utilization of available tools in the diagnostic evaluation of a breast mass. The evaluation should be performed expeditiously and the results communicated promptly to the patient. Regardless of the age of the woman, a clinically suspicious mass must be evaluated even if findings on a mammogram are normal.
- CBE = clinical breast examination
- CNB = core needle biopsy
- FNA = fine-needle aspiration
- FNAB = FNA biopsy
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