Exploring advanced breast cancer screening options

Mammograms have been a regular screening for breast cancer for the reason that 1970s. They have reworked early breast cancer detection and analysis by figuring out breast cancer earlier than it causes indicators and signs. Mammograms have been proven to cut back the chance of dying of breast cancer and have saved numerous lives.

New screening options transcend conventional mammography with developments that might not be acquainted. Here’s what you must find out about the commonest options and which could be finest for you.


A mammogram is an X-ray picture of your breasts and is the breast cancer screening method that most individuals consider. It additionally can be utilized for diagnostic functions, equivalent to to research signs or uncommon findings on one other kind of imaging check.

During a mammogram, your breasts are compressed between two firm surfaces to unfold the breast tissue. Then an X-ray captures black-and-white photos which can be displayed on a pc display and examined by a radiologist for indicators of cancer. A conventional mammogram creates two-dimensional photos of the breast.

At Mayo Clinic Health System, healthcare suppliers supply screening mammography, starting at 40, for women at common threat of breast cancer. Average risk of breast cancer means women with no household historical past of breast cancer and no different threat elements.

Digital breast tomosynthesis

This screening examination, also called 3D mammography, has grow to be a finest follow in women’s health for breast cancer-detecting know-how. Breast tomosynthesis differs from conventional mammograms in how the picture of the breast is obtained and, extra importantly, seen.

Like a standard mammogram, your breasts are compressed between two firm surfaces to unfold the breast tissue. A digital tomographic picture is created, and the radiologist can view and manipulate the pictures on high-resolution pc displays that improve visualization of the buildings inside the breast tissue. The tomographic photos assist to detect small calcifications, plenty and different adjustments which may be indicators of early cancer.

Tomosynthesis, or 3D mammograms, are finest follow for all women, no matter their cancer threat.

Watch an indication of how 3D photos permit breast tissue to be seen in particular person slices:

Molecular breast imaging

This process makes use of a radioactive tracer and a particular digital camera to take photos of the breast tissue.

During the molecular breast imaging (MBI) examination, a small quantity of radioactive tracer is injected right into a vein in your arm. The tracer travels via your blood to your breast tissue. Cells rising shortly take up extra of the tracer than slowly rising cells. Cancer cells typically develop shortly and will be recognized if they’re taking over extra of the tracer.

A particular digital camera, known as a gamma digital camera, detects the radiation launched by the tracer. In the images made by the gamma digital camera, the cells that take up extra of the tracer look brighter than the encompassing cells.

MBI gives the best profit for women with dense breasts or intermediate breast cancer threat. As the density of breast tissue will increase, the power to detect breast cancer with screening mammography turns into more difficult. It’s vital to know that MBI doesn’t substitute, however is used along with, screening mammography for early breast cancer detection.

Breast MRI

Magnetic resonance imaging of the breast, additionally known as breast MRI, is used to judge breast cancer or to assist healthcare groups decide the causes of different issues within the breast. Breast MRI is also advisable as a screening examination for women with an elevated lifetime threat of breast cancer, equivalent to a powerful household historical past of breast cancer, genetic threat or different elements.

A breast MRI makes use of highly effective magnets, radiofrequency detectors and a pc to create high-detail photos of the breasts. A breast MRI could also be completed after a biopsy exhibits cancer, as a screening examination or presumably to additional examine a breast discovering. Breast MRI can also consider the extent of any cancer, in addition to consider the opposite breast.

Breast MRI could also be used with mammography as a screening software for detecting breast cancer in some individuals. This contains individuals with a high threat of breast cancer. It additionally contains individuals with a powerful household historical past of breast cancer or who’ve breast cancer gene adjustments handed down via the household, known as an inherited gene.

Talk along with your healthcare staff about your threat for breast cancer and the advantages, dangers and limitations of every screening choice. In addition, focus on all adjustments to your breasts you discover and ask about an applicable screening schedule for you.

Next steps:

Cameron Leitch, M.D., is a radiologist in Eau Claire, Wisconsin.

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