A Clearer Picture of Breast Imaging - Mammograms: The Best Tool for Early
Detection of Breast Cancer
Do You Understand and Know About the Various Types of Breast Imaging?
A mammogram is an X-ray exam of the breast that's used to detect and
evaluate breast changes. While X-rays were first used to examine breast
tissue nearly a century ago, modern mammography has only existed since
the late 1960s, when special X-ray machines were designed and used just
for breast imaging. Fast forward to 2013, as today's mammograms expose
the breast to much less radiation compared with those in the past while
producing greater accuracy. Simply put, a mammogram is the best tool for
early detection of breast cancer. The standard recommendation is an annual
mammographic screening for women beginning at age 40.
Screening mammograms are X-ray exams of the breasts that are used for women
who have no breast symptoms. The goal is to find breast cancer when it's
too small to be felt by a woman or her physician. Finding small breast
cancers early with a screening mammogram greatly improves a woman's
chance for successful treatment.
Diagnostic mammograms are performed if abnormalities are found in a screening
mammogram or if there are noticeable breast concerns. It is still an X-ray
of the breast, but more images are taken to carefully study the area of
concern. In most cases, special pictures are enlarged to make a small
area of suspicious breast tissue easier to evaluate.
Digital mammography combines computer and imaging technologies to produce
high-quality images that can be digitally manipulated for detailed investigation
of specific parts of the breast.
3D Mammogram (Tomosynthesis)
• X-ray machines take images of thin slices of the breast from different
angles and computer software is used to reconstruct an image.
• Tomosynthesis uses very-low dose X-rays, but is generally performed
at the same time as a standard two-dimensional digital mammography, so
the radiation dose is slightly higher.
RWJBarnabas Health offers the latest in screening and diagnostic imaging
tools to help detect and diagnose breast cancer.
An ultrasound, also known as sonography, uses sound waves to make a picture
of the tissues inside the breast, including the area closest to the chest
wall. Breast ultrasound is used to find the cause of the breast symptoms,
check a breast lump found on breast self-examination or physical examination,
and check abnormal mammogram results.
Utilized in combination with other tests, such as mammogram or ultrasound,
breast MRI is recommended for screening women who are at high risk for
breast cancer due to family history and/or a BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene mutation.
It is used for patients who have been diagnosed with breast cancer to
help measure the size of the cancer and look for any other tumors in the
breast. It's also used to examine the opposite breast - to be sure
that it doesn't contain any tumors.
Breast MRI Biopsy
An MRI-guided breast biopsy is helpful when MRI imaging shows a breast
abnormality such as a suspicious mass not identified by other imaging
techniques, and an area of distortion or abnormal tissue change. Using
MRI guidance to calculate the position of the abnormal tissue and to verify
the placement of the needle, the radiologist inserts the biopsy needle
through the skin, advances it into the lesion and removes tissue samples.
A galactogram is a special X-ray exam that evaluates breast fluid. The
procedure requires the insertion of a very fine plastic tube into the
breast duct. This allows the radiologist to insert a contrast material
into the duct so it can be seen on the X-ray of your breast.
Stereotactic Breast Biopsy
Stereotactic breast biopsy is a non-surgical needle biopsy technique that
may be used in place of surgery to decide whether a suspicious mammographic
lesion is benign or malignant. This procedure involves an X-ray-guided
needle that is controlled by a computer to obtain a tiny sampling of breast tissue.
RWJBarnabas Health Breast Services
From revolutionary diagnostic technologies, to innovative and promising
new therapies, each of our breast programs offers world-class care and
treatment by a team of medical experts. From medical and radiation oncology,
to conservation and reconstruction surgeries, our team of physicians,
surgeons, social workers, nurse navigators and genetic counselors are
readily available to assist patients and their families - all with an
unwavering focus on not only physical well-being, but also emotional and
National Mammography Day
Each year, the third Friday in October marks National Mammography Day.
RWJBarnabas Health encourages women to make a mammography appointment
on this day and throughout the month by calling one of our
breast imaging centers. Wear pink to show your support!
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