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NCCN Guidelines for Patients



Breast Cancer – Locally Advanced (STAGE III)

Version 1.2017

Physical exam

Doctors often perform a physical exam along with

taking a medical history. A physical exam is a study

of your body for signs of disease. To start, your basic

body functions will be measured. These functions

include your temperature, blood pressure, and pulse

and breathing (respiration) rate. Your weight will also

be checked.

During the exam, your doctor will listen to your lungs,

heart, and gut. He or she will also look at and feel

parts of your body. This is done to see if organs are

of normal size, are soft or hard, or cause pain when


Your doctor will touch your breasts and nearby lymph

nodes. This is called a clinical breast exam. Your

breasts may be felt while you sit or stand up as well

as when you lie back. Some women feel uneasy

having their breasts touched by their doctor. Keep in

mind that this exam provides important information

and is quick.

Imaging tests

Imaging tests make pictures (images) of the insides

of your body. They can show which sites have

cancer. This information helps your doctors stage

the cancer. Certain imaging tests also reveal some

features of a tumor and its cells.

Lobular breast cancer is a less common subtype. It

may be hard to see well on some types of imaging.

Confirm with your doctor what imaging tests you

should receive.

A radiologist is a doctor who’s an expert in reading

images. Your radiologist will convey the imaging

results to your cancer doctor. This information helps

your doctor decide what the next steps of care

should be.

Your treatment team will tell you how to prepare

for these tests. You may need to stop taking some

medicines and stop eating and drinking for a few

hours before some scans. Tell your team if you get

nervous when in small spaces. You may be given a

sedative to help you relax.

Some imaging tests use contrast. Contrast is a dye

that will be injected into your bloodstream. It makes

the pictures clearer. Some people have an allergic

reaction to the dye. Tell your doctor if you’ve had

problems with contrast in the past.

Diagnostic bilateral mammogram

A mammogram is a picture of the insides of your

breast. The pictures are made using x-rays. A

computer combines the x-rays to make detailed


You may have already had a diagnostic bilateral

mammogram. If you haven’t, it is advised. A bilateral

mammogram is a picture of each breast. Diagnostic

mammograms are made with more x-rays than


Treatment planning

Physical exam


Imaging tests