What is Breast Screening?

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Mammography Remains The Gold Standard

Although the majority of breast disorders are benign (non-life-threatening), one of the disturbing aspects of breast cancer is that so little can be done to prevent it. Most risk factors can be predicted or controlled, especially genetically based premenopausal cancers.

The best chance of cure for breast cancer is to treat it as its earliest stage. The KEY to finding breast cancer is EARLY DETECTION and the key to early detection is SCREENING.

Breast cancer screening refers to “testing” the breast in asyimptomatic women (with no symptom) for the purpose of detecting unsuspected breast cancer at a stage where early intervention can affect outcome.

There are many tools for imaging the breast:

  • Film Mammography.
  • Ultrasound.
    • Ultrasound proves useful in addition to mammography
    • Especially in ladies with denser breast.
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging.
  • Xeromammography.
  • Computed Technology.
  • Thermography.
  • Transillumination.
  • Electropotentials (for palpable lesions)

Newer still are computer aided digital mammography and 3-d ultrasound.

Normal Breast vs Cancerous Breast Mammography Image.Normal Breast (Left) vs Cancerous Breast (Right) Mammography Image.

Although several new technologies on the horizon show promise for improved capability to detect breast cancer, none have yet proved superior to traditional, x-ray film mammography in screening for breast cancer. A report in March 2001 from the Institute of Medicine (IOM) and National Research Council of the National Academies of America reaffirms that despite its limitations, film mammography remains the “gold standard” against which, all newer imaging technologies will be measured.

Mammography or mammograms, as used in the rest of this leaflet refers to X-ray film mammography.

No age limit for mammography!

Any person who has signs or symptoms suggestive of breast cancer needs appropriate evaluation, regardless of age. Even males with suspected breast cancer undergo mammograms.

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