Breast cancer affects hundreds of thousands of women each year. It can be a scary diagnosis to receive. But if you catch breast cancer in its early stages, the outcome is generally much better.
There are a variety of screening techniques to help detect breast cancer. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and ultrasounds are popular options. But mammograms are the best way to detect breast cancer, and here's why.
How does a mammogram work?
A mammogram is a type of x-ray imaging that looks at breast tissue. In a mammogram, your breast goes on a plate and is then compressed by an upper plate called a paddle. While your breast is in this position, your doctor uses an x-ray to see the breast tissue. A radiologist will then interpret the results of the mammogram.
What other types of mammograms exist?
X-ray mammograms are the most common option. But, there are other effective technologies.
Digital mammography uses the same x-ray technology as standard mammograms. But instead of storing the results of the images on film, it stores them digitally. One of the primary advantages of digital mammography is it reduces your exposure to radiation.
Digital mammograms may be more effective than conventional mammograms. Especially for women under 50 or those who have dense breast tissue. It can also be more effective if you haven't gone through menopause.
Tomosynthesis, or 3-D mammography, is another way to view breast tissue. 3-D mammography uses x-rays to view thin sections of the breast. It also uses less radiation than 2-D mammography. Even still, many patients have both 2-D and 3-D mammograms in order to receive the best results.
What are the limits of mammography?
Mammograms are an excellent tool for early detection. But the testing does have limitations. Mammograms can sometimes have false positive results. Which may be more common in women who have dense breast tissue. In such cases, a follow-up biopsy is necessary for further testing.
Dense breast tissue can also present challenges. Especially when it comes to getting accurate results from a mammogram. In these cases, you may need to get an MRI or an ultrasound.
In some cases, your doctor may also recommend an alternative method called molecular breast imaging (MBI). MBI makes it easier to see cancer cells if they’re present.
Who should get a mammogram?
Women between the ages of 45 and 54 should get a mammogram every year. Women over 55 can switch to every other year if previous results have been clear.
Some women, particularly those with a family history of cancer, may be at higher risk. And should get a mammogram at an earlier age. Ask your doctor whether you’re in a high-risk category for breast cancer. They'll let you know if you need screening sooner.
Women who've had breast implants can and should get mammograms. However, you may need to have more films taken to examine all the natural breast tissue.
Getting a mammogram is one of the smartest things you can do for your health. Early detection can save your life.
Call our office at 347-354-2742 or make an appointment online with Dr. Rimma Gelbert.