All about Cancer

Common Labs and list of Procedures that are needed by a Breast Cancer Patient before Proceeding to Chemotherapy.

About me

Hello everyone! I’m Dang.

 Thank you for dropping by.  Welcome to my humble zone.

I’m a breast cancer patient fighting for my rights to live. I created to show that BIG C is not the end of the world. But a beginning of a fight and a new life. I encourage those who are at the same shoes to fight even if you feel exhausted, even your wallet was drained. That, there are reason to fight back and a reason not to give up. Cheers!

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Breast lumps and breast infection are the most common signs of breast cancer. If you found out that you have these signs, make sure to have it checked by the doctors to prevent more serious cases of breast cancer.

Breast lumps which can’t be move is a sign of a cancerous lump. And needed to be examined as soon as possible. While the benign tumor is caused by nipple discharge and dimpling of the skin over the lump. This is called lipoma, a soft fatty tumor that is non-cancerous and generally movable and painless.

Breast infections are sometimes experienced by breastfeeding moms. This infection is commonly caused by Staphylococcus aureus bacteria that can normally found on normal skin. The bacteria can enter through the crack on the skin, usually on the nipple. If the infection takes place, the fatty tissue of the breast may swell that pushes on the milk ducts. As a result, the infected breast may feel lumps and pain. If the breast infection is not related to breastfeeding, consult immediately to the doctors because it might be a sign of rare breast cancer. 

If you are planning to undergo Chemotherapy, these are the list of the common labs and procedures that you need before pursuing chemotherapy.

List of Common Labs and Procedure

Breast Ultrasound 

At first that you know you have lumps in your breast, the most common and painless procedure is the breast ultrasound. It uses high-frequency sound waves to create specific images of the inside of the breast. Ultrasound is safe for pregnant women and nursing mothers because it doesn’t use radiation unlike X-rays and CT-scan.

Breast ultrasound can only detect if there is a suspicious lump. It helps your doctor to determine the location and size of the lump as well as if the lump is fluid-filled or a solid tumor. On the other hand, breast ultrasound cannot assess whether your lump is cancerous or not. It can only be determined by performing ultrasound-guided core needle biopsy. In this procedure, the doctor will take a sample of tissue or fluid in the lump. Then the sample will be analyzed in a laboratory to determine if it is cancerous or not. It will take a week or more to know the result.

Core Needle Biopsy

A core needle biopsy is a process where a doctor uses a hollow needle to pull out pieces of breast tissue from a suspicious lump. It is a quick and an outpatient procedure but with local anesthesia. It means you are awake during the process but your breast is numbed. The doctor will perform a small cut into the breast wherein the biopsy needle is put into the breast to harvest breast tissue sample. It may take several times to get the required amount of tissue for this test and may last up to 15 mins. No stitches are needed after this process. The affected area should be covered with sterile gauze and pressed for a short time to limit the bleeding. To know more about how I have gone through this process click here.

If the result of the biopsy is Invasive carcinoma then the next common labs you need to accomplished is the breast panel test. 

Breast Panel Test (ER/ PR test) 

The breast panel test is an examination of the cancer cells to determine whether the cancer cells are Estrogen (ER) or progesterone (PR) receptors. If the cancer cells have estrogen receptors, then it is ER-positive. If it is a progesterone receptor, it is PR positive. If this receptor is not in breast cancer cells, then it is ER/ PR negative.

These receptors are related to cancer growth and influence hormonal functions in women such as pregnancy, sexual development, childbirth, and menopause. If a patient is diagnosed with invasive breast cancer they should have their ER/ PR test.

The standard part of a breast cancer diagnosis is to test the tumor for both estrogen and progesterone receptors. The result will be the doctor’s guide to determine the person’s risk of recurrence after treatment.

HER 2 Test

Her 2 is a protein that can be found in cancer cells. It helped cancer to grow rapidly and spread faster than any other breast cancer. It is usually tested with immunohistochemical stain (IHC) or Fluorescent in situ hybridization (FISH).

If HER2 score ranges from 0-1, then the cancer cell is HER2 negative. If it’s score is 3+ then it is HER2 positive. But if the score is 2, it is called equivocal and the tumor is not clear. This means that the tumor should be tested with FISH to clarify the result. 

Knowing the HER2 test is a big factor in giving the precise cure for a breast cancer patient.

Triple-negative breast cancer (HER2 negative, ER/ PR negative) 

It has a limited treatment option and cancer is tend to recur more frequently than any other breast cancer. Chemotherapy is the most essential treatment for Triple-negative breast cancer.

Triple Positive Breast cancer

These cancers can be treated with targeted therapy and hormonal therapy. Targeted therapy uses drugs or substances to precisely attack and Identify certain types of cancer. Triple breast cancer is more aggressive than triple-negative breast cancer, but because of the advance invention of drugs that targeted the cancer cells, the rate of survival increases and lessen the chance of recurrence

Ct Scan

CT scan stands for Computed tomography scan. It uses a combination of a narrow x-ray beam and a computer that allows the doctor to see inside the body. The X-ray beam circles around one part of the body and provides a series of images from many angles. This information will process by a computer to create a cross-sectional picture and present a detailed image of your organs, bones, or blood vessels.

X-ray machine which sends just one radiation beam is different from CT-Scan. Ct-scanner’s X-ray detector can see tissues within a solid organ by using hundreds of different levels of density.

There’s a new technology that improves the accuracy and speed of Ct-scan. It is called a spiral ct. The beam gathers continuing data with no break between images.

Common labs and procedure: Ct scan
CT scan

To know more about CT scan click here

2D Echocardiography

Chemotherapy has a significant side effect to the heart. Your doctor must know the status of your heart before starting chemotherapy to prevent the worst side effect. Preparing for chemotherapy need a common labs and procedure called 2D echo.

2D echo is the ultrasound of the heart. It takes pictures and displays a cross-sectional slice of the heart and shows different chambers, valves, and major blood vessels. It uses a “doppler” which is a special element that asses the flow of blood in the heart.

Echocardiography can provide important information to a physician about heart like:

  • The thickness of the wall, size of the chambers and volume
  • Pumping functions such as a normal or reduced, mild, or severe degree.
  • Valve function- the movement of the heart’s valve, its thickness, and structure.
  • Volume status- assessing poor heart function that results in low blood pressure.
  • Pericardial Effusion- If the heart has fluid in the pericardium that can cause congenital heart disease, abnormal elevation of pressure within the lungs, blood clots, and tumor.

I don’t include the mammogram in this common lab and procedure post because I‘m not a fan of this procedure. Thinking of a lump then pressed is a more complicated and hurtful process. 


Upon completing these common labs and procedures, patients are now ready for chemotherapy.

Bracing yourself to be ready for side effects can be a great help to fight cancer. Remember that cancer is not a single disease but a group of diseases that we can combat. Just take a first step which is identifying what type of cancer you have and identifying its key information about how it may behave.

Some simple reminder

While in chemo sessions, changing diet may be a big help for a cancer patient.

Omitting some whites. Like white rice, white bread, etc. Replace it with red or brown rice and whole wheat products. Increase your intake of raw vegetables and fruits with a low glycemic index. And gulp with lots of alkaline water. Patients may consider going back to a natural way of eating their foods to preserve their natural power.

Go natural food
Raw vegetables and fruit

Can apricot bitter kernels fight cancer? consider reading this post

See you in my next post!