Mammography is the use of specialized X-ray technology to create a picture of the breast. Long considered the standard for breast cancer screening, mammography is essential for a woman's health. The American Cancer Society guidelines recommend women begin mammograms at age 40 and repeat every year thereafter.
A breast ultrasound is a procedure that uses reflected sound waves to view and produce a picture of the internal structures of the breast. Breast ultrasound does not use X-rays.
An ultrasound generally does not replace the need for a mammogram. However, it’s often used to further evaluate mammography results.
Breast MRI, or magnetic resonance imaging, is used to acquire cross-sectional images of the breast. A computer will compile these scans into 2-D and 3-D images. During the imaging process, contrast dye is given intravenously to highlight lesions and masses that otherwise may not be visible in a mammogram.
Breast MRI is very useful for the diagnosis of breast cancer. A patient may have very dense breasts, may be at a high genetic risk for breast cancer or may have a family history of breast cancer.
If a patient already is diagnosed with breast cancer, breast MRI is used to ensure other areas of the breast do not have cancer.
This minimally invasive approach to analyzing calcifications or masses can be seen with a mammogram, but not by ultrasound. Stereotactic biopsy uses digital imaging to obtain tissue samples. This procedure requires local anesthesia and only low-dose radiation.
This is a minimally invasive approach to analyzing breast nodules and lesions. With this procedure, the radiologist gathers the tissue samples while the ultrasound is being performed. This procedure requires local anesthesia and no radiation and reduces the use of surgery.
The sentinel node is the first lymph node (gland) to receive lymphatic drainage from a tumor. This procedure identifies the sentinel node and can minimize post-op complications.
A small amount of X-ray contrast is injected into the breast duct, and specialized mammogram views are taken to evaluate abnormalities of the duct.
This is a minimally invasive procedure used to remove fluid from a lump — often a cyst — with a needle and a syringe.
A procedure that uses very thin needles or guide wires to mark the location of an abnormal area of tissue so it can be surgically removed. The area in question can be localized using mammography or ultrasound. Needle localization is used when a surgeon can’t feel the abnormal tissue.