A 40-year-old woman noticed a lump in her left breast during a self-exam. She had not noticed this before, and it remained for a few days. She went to her physician for an examination. The doctor prescribed several tests such as an ultrasound and needle biopsy. She is diagnosed with a malignant tumor (2 cm) of the left breast. Her doctor recommends surgery to remove the tumor and may recommend a regimen of chemotherapy.

How would you determine the stage of tumor?

Why would the doctor select the particular diagnostic tests?

Why might the doctor recommend chemotherapy?

Which self-examination techniques might have aided an earlier detection of the tumor?
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Solution Preview

  1. The gold standard for determining the stage of a tumor is the TNM system. In this system T stands for the extent/size of the tumor, N stands for the extent of the spread into the lymph nodes, and finally M stands for the metastasis, or how far the cancer cells have migrated to other parts of the body. After completing the diagnostic tests the doctor order, the health care team could use this system to properly stage the tumor.
  2. The diagnostic tests chosen are …

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