Despite advances in the medical field, cancer diagnoses are expected to continue to rise. In fact, one in eight American women will receive a breast cancer diagnosis in her lifetime. But while the number of cancer cases is rising, so are survival rates. This is partly due to early detection of breast cancer. And detection is made possible by diagnostic imaging. But how exactly does this work?
Mammograms: There are actually two different types of mammograms that are used to detect and diagnose breast cancer: screening mammography and diagnostic mammography. Screening mammograms use a low dose of x-ray to screen for breast cancer. Diagnostic mammograms, on the other hand, are generally used to solve problems and is tailored to the patient’s specific situation. Both types of mammograms are crucial in detecting and diagnosing problems related to breast cancer.
Breast MRI: Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is used to detect a variety of issues throughout the human body. At a women’s clinic, MRI can be used to produce multiple images of the breast to put together a complete image of the medical scan. With this complete image, a radiologist can see things that may not show up with other types of diagnostic imaging. Along with yearly mammograms, some women may receive recommendations to get a regular MRI as well.
Ultrasounds: Ultrasounds use high-frequency sound waves to penetrate a lump and show whether it is filled with fluid or not. This is crucial in determining whether or not a lump is precancerous or cancerous. Generally, ultrasounds are used along with other types of imaging to get a more specific look at a targeted area in the breast. This is a noninvasive way for female health doctors to get a clearer picture of soft tissue areas.
If abnormalities, lumps, or other concerning findings are detected at the medical imaging center, patients will then undergo further tests to get a closer look at the area in question. And if the screening tests do not show that a finding is benign, the patient may need to undergo a biopsy. During a biopsy, a small amount of tissue will be removed from the concerning area so it can undergo testing in the lab.
As you can see, diagnostic imaging tests are crucial in detecting and diagnosing breast cancer. With today’s technology, physicians hope to continue to be able to detect and treat breast cancer as early as possible.