Diagnostic Imaging Techniques for Breast Care
At Reliant Medical Group, we employ the most advanced technologies available during diagnostic exams to carefully view breast tissue for any potential abnormalities. Our goal is to safeguard your health by providing the highest quality exam possible.
During a digital mammogram, an electronic X-ray sensor is used instead of film to create images of the breast. When viewed on a computer screen, the digital images can be easily enhanced for more detailed viewing. Digital mammography allows for a smaller radiation dose and faster exams. It is considered equal or superior to film-based mammography in the detection of breast cancer.
(Digital Mammography services are offered at our Leominster, Gold Star Blvd. and Grove Street locations.)
Also known as sonography, ultrasound uses high-frequency sound waves to produce an image. Ultrasound is often used to evaluate breast lumps which may be difficult to see on a mammogram and to distinguish between solid tumors and fluid-filled cysts. It is also employed during other diagnostic procedures, such as fine needle aspiration biopsies.
Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) uses a powerful magnet linked to a computer to create highly detailed images. A Breast MRI can produce hundreds of images from different perspectives to help with diagnosis. It is most often used to evaluate abnormal areas uncovered during routine screenings. Breast MRIs are also used in imaging dense breast tissue, which can be difficult to examine by other methods.
When a diagnostic exam reveals an abnormality, a biopsy is used to determine whether it is cancerous or not. All biopsies remove a small amount of tissue (or fluid) that can be checked under a microscope for signs of cancer. Breast imaging techniques are often utilized to help doctors perform more effective biopsies.
Breast Abnormalities are not Uncommon
It is not unusual for a diagnostic mammogram, ultrasound or Breast MRI to be needed after a routine screening mammogram. Breast abnormalities, such as breast lumps, occur frequently and need to be thoroughly evaluated to rule out more serious problems. In fact, approximately one out of 10 women will require a diagnostic mammogram or additional imaging after their regular screenings. Additional imaging should not be considered a diagnosis of cancer. However, it is an essential way to detect early and often curable breast cancers.
Diagnostic Mammograms – a Closer Look
If an abnormality (such as a lump) is found during your screening mammogram, a more thorough exam called a diagnostic mammogram will be scheduled to learn more about your condition. Diagnostic mammograms take longer than screening mammograms since a specific area of the breast must be carefully viewed from several angles. If necessary, your radiologist will schedule additional imaging procedures after your diagnostic mammogram to provide more information for establishing a diagnosis.
Breast Exams – An Essential Tool for Cancer Screening
Breast exams save lives because they help to detect cancer early. Women diagnosed with breast cancer have a survival rate over 95% if their cancer is detected early. That’s why regular breast exams are so essential for your health.
All women age 40 and older should have a yearly breast screening mammogram. Women who are at a higher-than-average risk of breast cancer (such as those who have a family history of the disease) should ask their healthcare providers whether they should have an exam before age 40. Mammograms are essential because they detect tumors that cannot be felt by hand.
In addition, regular self-exams are also important, as are clinical breast exams performed by healthcare providers. Since no detection method is 100% accurate, it’s important to use more than one screening tool.