"Screening" refers to tests and exams used to find diseases (such as cancer) in people who have no symptoms. The goal of screening mammography is to detect breast cancer at its earliest stage.
Diagnostic mammograms are similar to screening mammograms in that the same type of imaging equipment is used. A diagnostic mammogram is a more comprehensive exam that is typically performed to evaluate a specific sign or symptom in the breast tissue. A diagnostic mammogram is usually ordered if:
- A woman or her doctor have noticed breast changes or symptoms
- A screening mammogram has shown a suspicious area
With digital mammography, breast images that are taken electronically, without film. Images can be viewed using a variety of specialized software tools.
Computed aided detection (CAD)
Computed aided detection (CAD) uses computer software that analyzes mammography images, looks for patterns associated with cancer and brings them to the attention of the radiologist. Radiologists may read breast images on their own, then use CAD software to reevaluate the image and focus on areas of concern.
Breast Gamma Camera
One of the latest and most advanced methods of detecting cancer cells, Breast Gamma Camera provides the most concise images for women with questionable mammograms due to scar tissue, implants or dense breast tissue. Breast Gamma Camera is also called breast specific gamma imaging (BSGI). Find out more about Breast Gamma Camera.
Breast ultrasound uses sound waves to create an image of the inside of the breast. It is used to evaluate breast changes that are found on a mammogram or by a doctor. A breast ultrasound is usually ordered if a:
- Diagnostic mammogram has shown a suspicious area
- Woman is under 29 years old and has a lump
- Woman has a history of breast cysts and other breast changes only seen on ultrasound
Cyst aspiration is the process of collecting fluid from a cyst. It is ordered if a breast cyst has become uncomfortable or painful. Before the procedure, the area in the breast is numbed. Using ultrasound, the radiologist places a needle into the breast cyst and fluid is removed.
Ductography or Galactography is a test used to determine certain types of nipple discharge. It requires a small amount of contrast that goes though a tiny tube into the breast. Mammographic X-rays are taken. The fluid is seen on the mammogram and can help detect a mass inside the duct. A ductogram is ordered if there is nipple discharge that is concerning your doctor.
Image guided breast biopsy
Image guided breast biopsy is used to remove small samples of breast tissue which are sent to a lab to be tested for cancer. The procedure may be done with x-rays or ultrasound.
- If the suspicious area is best seen with x-rays, a stereotatic core biopsy will be done. While lying face down on a special table, the breast area is numbed. A needle is placed into the breast by a radiologist and tissue samples are taken.
- If the suspicious area is best seen under ultrasound, a breast ultrasound core biopsy will be performed. While you're lying face up, the suspicious area is found with ultrasound by the radiologist. The area of the breast is numbed before the procedure is started. A needle is placed in the suspicious area by a radiologist and tissue samples are taken.
When the biopsy is complete, pressure is held on the breast and a bandage is put on it. Acetaminophen or ibuprofen is recommended for discomfort. The test results should be ready within 3 business days. You will be notified when your results are available.
- It is important that your mammogram and breast ultrasound x-rays be at the hospital 2 working days before your biopsy.
- If you are on any blood thinners, please let us know as soon as possible.
- You may have a light meal and or beverages before your core biopsy.
- Please arrive at least 15 minutes before your appointment time.
- Plan on being at your appointment for 2 hours.
Fine needle aspiration biopsy (FNAB)
The area of the breast is numbed by a radiologist before the procedure. A small thin needle is inserted into the suspicious area. A small amount of fluid is then pulled out and looked at under a microscope. In some cases this amount of fluid is not enough to make a diagnosis for cancer and a core biopsy will be performed. Your results will be available in 3 business days.
Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) is an exam that may help women who are at high risk for breast cancer, such as those with a personal or family history of the disease or with genetic risk factors. It’s also sometimes used for women with breast implants.
Balloon therapy delivers a high dose of radiation directly to the location in the breast where cancer is most likely to recur. This is an innovative option that treats breast cancer while conserving breast tissue.
A needle/wire localization is used to pinpoint the area of concern in the breast. After the area is numb, The radiologist inserts a needle into the breast to mark the area. A small guidewire is inserted through the needle. The needle is removed and the wire is left in place. X-rays are then taken, with the wire marking the exact location of the biopsy. The wire is placed in your breast the same day as your surgery.
Sentinel lymph node mapping
Sentinel lymph node mapping is a new diagnostic procedure used to determine if breast cancer has spread (metastasized) to the axillary lymph nodes (lymph glands under the arm). Sentinel lymph node mapping requires the removal of only one to three lymph nodes for close review by a pathologist. If the sentinel nodes do not contain tumor (cancer) cells, this may eliminate the need to remove additional lymph nodes in the axillary area.