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Your doctor may do a number of tests to determine the type of cancer you have, establish the stage of cancer and look for evidence of cancer spreading to other parts of your body. Tumours can grow into the local area of the breast and underarm, and cancer cells can break off from the original tumour, travel through the body and grow in other areas (metastasis). The likelihood of developing metastatic breast cancer is based on the size of the tumour, the number of lymph nodes involved and the biologic characteristics of your breast cancer.

It’s important for you to have a breast examination by your doctor. In addition to doing the clinical breast exam, he or she will review your overall health and feel your abdomen to check for growths or abnormalities on your organs. Your breasts will be checked for lumps. The lymph nodes around your armpits and neck will also be checked for enlargement.