BreastCare Screening Services

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BreastCare Screening Services

Mammography

What is a mammogram?
A mammogram is an x-ray of the breast tissue. Mammograms show abnormalities that cannot be felt by you or your doctor. Although most of these abnormalities are not cancer, any abnormality must be further investigated by physicians specializing in breast diagnosis (radiologists).

An annual mammogram is recommended for any woman age 40 or older. Mammography is not 100% accurate, but it continues to be the best screening tool available for the early detection of breast cancer. And, when combined with breast self examination and other diagnostic tests, and interpreted by our radiologists, the accuracy greatly improves.

What happens during a mammogram?
In a mammogram, we look at two views of each breast. For uniform exposure of the breast, we compress the breast to an even thickness, which may produce some temporary discomfort, but is not harmful to the breast tissue. Although mammograms use radiation to image the breast, the amount of radiation exposure from a mammogram is minimal - less than the radiation exposure you’d encounter on a cross-country airplane trip.

Breast Ultrasound

What is a breast ultrasound?
A breast ultrasound is a more detailed type of exam that is used to evaluate an abnormality seen on a mammogram or to evaluate a lump felt in the breast. Ultrasounds are not used for routine screening – they are used to determine the need for biopsy or any further testing of the breast. Unlike a mammogram, which uses radiation, ultrasound uses sound waves to image the structures in the breast.

What happens during an ultrasound?
In an ultrasound, a transducer (hand-held scanner) is placed on the skin over a lump in the breast, or over an area that looked abnormal on the mammogram. A clear water-soluble gel is placed on the skin in order for the transducer to have better contact with the skin and transmit the sound waves. The test is read by looking at the sound wave patterns that are displayed on a television screen attached to the ultrasound machine.

Breast MRI

What is a breast MRI?
An MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) of the breast is used on a very limited basis for specific diagnostic problems. For example, we use MRIs to determine the extent of cancer in the breast after a positive breast biopsy. We might also use MRIs when conventional imaging and/or a physical exam are contradictory. MRIs can also evaluate certain types of breast implant problems.

MRIs are not used in routine screening for breast cancer.