What are breast ultrasounds and mammograms?
As a rule of thumb, a breast ultrasound is more accurate in women younger than 45 years. A mammography is preferred in women older than 45 years. Therefore, the investigation best suited to you depends on your age, your symptoms, and the structure of your breasts.
Often, for women with dense breasts or those with a history of scarred tissues in the breast, a sonography is a better option than a mammography.
Your doctor may supplement your mammography with sonography or vice versa to be sure of any lump in the breast.
Advantages and disadvantages of ultrasound and mammogram
Some of the disadvantages of mammogram include:
Disadvantages of an ultrasound include:
Physicians will never advise replacing a mammogram with an ultrasound. It is always better to use both tests. Mammograms are the most common screening tool in the United States and other developed countries. However, in developing countries, women might not have access to a mammogram or may not be able to afford it. Hence, an ultrasound would be the most feasible option in such countries.
Where a mammography is available, an ultrasound should be a supplemental test. An ultrasound should be done for women with dense breasts who do not meet high-risk criteria for magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) screening. Moreover, it should be done for high-risk women with dense breasts who are unable to tolerate an MRI.
Who should consider breast cancer screening?
Breast cancer is the second leading cause of death in American women. It is cancer that starts in the tissue of the breast. Breast cancer mainly affects the tube that carries milk to the nipple (ducts) and glands that make milk (lobules). Some of the risk factors associated with breast cancer include:
- Increasing age
- A family history of the disease on the mother’s side
- A known BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutation
- Menarche at an early age
- Late pregnancy or never having given birth
- Not breastfeeding the child
- Use of hormones such as estrogen and progesterone
- Consumption of alcoholic beverages
Those women are at a high risk of breast cancer who have
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Breast AnatomyThe breast, or mammary gland is made up of lobules, milk producing glands, and a system of ducts to transport milk. Both males and females have breasts. Abnormal enlargement of breasts in men is referred to as gynecomastia. In women, during pregnancy the breasts grow larger and produce milk. Common medical conditions that affect the breasts include breast cancer, breast lumps, fibrocystic changes and cysts, mastitis, and benign tumors (fibroadenomas).
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Breast cancer is an invasive tumor that develops in the mammary gland. Breast cancer is detected via mammograms, breast self-examination (BSE), biopsy, and specialized testing on breast cancer tissue. Treatment of breast cancer may involve surgery, radiation, hormone therapy, chemotherapy, and targeted therapy. Breast cancer risk may be lowered by managing controllable risk factors.
What you should know about breast cancer
- Breast cancer is the most common cancer among American women.
- One in every eight women in the United States develops breast cancer.
- There are many types of breast cancer that differ in their capability of spreading (metastasize) to other body tissues.
- The causes of breast cancer are unknown, although medical professionals have identified a number of risk factors.
- There are many different types of breast cancer.
- Breast cancer symptoms and signs include
- a lump in the breast or armpit,
- bloody nipple discharge,
- inverted nipple,
- orange-peel texture or dimpling of the breast's skin (peau d'orange),
- breast pain or sore nipple,
- swollen lymph nodes in the neck or armpit, and
- a change in the size or shape of the breast or nipple.
- Breast cancer can also be symptom free, which makes following national screening recommendations an important practice.
- Breast cancer is diagnosed during a physical exam, by a self-exam of the breasts, mammography, ultrasound testing, and biopsy.
- Treatment of breast cancer depends on the type of cancer and its stage (0-IV) and may involve surgery, radiation, or chemotherapy.
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Breast Cancer Facts
Breast cancer is the most common non-skin cancer of American women, but it can also occur in men. Every year in the U.S., there are over 266,000 new diagnoses of breast cancer. A woman has a risk of one in eight for developing breast cancer at some point during her lifetime.
Breast Lumps (in Women)Breast lumps in women can have a variety of causes such as breast inflammation, infection, injuries, cancer, and non-cancerous growths. Breast lumps in women are diagnosed with physical exam, mammogram, ultrasound, MRI, and biopsy. Treatment of breast lumps in women depend on the cause.
MammogramMammogram is a test that produces an image of the breast tissue on film. The technique is referred to as mammography. Mammography can visualize normal and abnormal structures within the breast such as cysts, calcifications, and tumors looking for breast cancer. The first baseline mammogram for a woman should be between the ages of 35 to 40.
UltrasoundUltrasound (and ultrasonography) is imaging of the body used in the medical diagnosis and screening of diseases and conditions such as:
- heart valve irregularities,
- carotid artery disease,
- heart disease,
- kidney stones,
- liver disease,
- diseases of the female reproductive, and
- diseases of the male reproductive organs.
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What Age Should a Woman Get a Mammogram?Regular mammography (X-ray breast imaging) helps in detecting breast cancer early, sometimes up to three years before a breast lump is noticeable in self-exam. Women should start getting a mammogram every year at age 45, assuming they have no risk factors that would require earlier screening, but may dial back to every couple years after 55 when the peak statistical risk of breast cancer has passed.
What Are The Five Warning Signs Of Breast Cancer?The majority of breast cancer patients first seek diagnosis because of a lump on the breast. This is one of the five warning signs of breast cancer. Others include changes in the nipple, changes in the breast skin and other symptoms.
What Is Usually the First Sign of Breast Cancer?A lump in the breast or in the armpits is often the first sign of breast cancer. This may be felt while in the shower. There may or may not be changes in the structure of the breast. Other early signs include changes in breast skin, breast pain and others.