Breast cancer treatment success depends on the stage of the cancer when it is diagnosed; early detection can dramatically improve the chances of survival with treatments including surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy. In order to increase the rate of early breast cancer detection, screening is encouraged for women over the age of 40. Prior to this age, you can identify any abnormalities in breast tissue through self-exams and breast exams during yearly physicals. Once you are at the age for formal breast cancer screening, you may undergo one or more of the following tests:
- Yearly mammograms: Mammography is used as the first step in identifying breast cancer and provides a clear picture of the whole breast so that lumps or thickened tissue can be easily detected by the doctor. This test is a type of X-ray that uses two plates to flatten the breast for the most accurate picture of the tissue. Most women will start getting mammograms at the age of 40, but they could be necessary earlier if you have a family history of breast cancer.
- Ultrasound: The doctor may recommend ultrasound as a follow-up test after an abnormal mammogram, or as a tool to identify the cause of symptoms like breast discharge or palpable lumps. Ultrasound is not a primary screening method, but it is useful in diagnosing specific conditions. The use of 3D ultrasound is being evaluated for its effectiveness in both diagnosing and screening breast cancer.
- MRI: This radiation-free type of imaging is helpful for women who have been recently diagnosed with certain types of breast cancer and women who have an especially high risk for breast cancer. MRI, or magnetic resonance imaging, can offer clearer, more detailed images than mammography, but it is not recommended for all patients.
If it is time for your annual breast cancer screening, visit the office of Marla W. Dudak, M.D. We utilize the latest imaging techniques, all of which are available on-site. Schedule your appointment with us by calling (888) 418-6759 or visiting our website.