Diagnostic Tools and Screening Tests for Breast Cancer

Posted on by Paula Gallagher

Aside from mammography, there are other diagnostic tools that can be used to confirm the presence or absence of cancer. However, most health care professionals still consider these as a supplement to mammography and not a replacement. Sort of like breast self-exams and the ones done by your doctor. Although there has been much controversy about breast self-exams and their effectiveness, I still think it is important to do them. You should know and be familiar with your body, and if something doesn't feel quite right, you can go to the doctor and let them know. Then a follow-up can be done with a diagnostic test of some kind. Mammograms have been an important step in helping women detect breast cancer early. However, this test can be painful, uncomfortable and sometimes unreliable. It also adds radiation to the body. Thermography, or digital infrared imaging (DII) is a painless, non-invasive procedure that uses an infrared camera and a computer to detect, analyze and produce high resolution diagnostic images of temperature variations within the breast. One of the key benefits of thermography is its sensitivity to detecting abnormalities or changes in tissues long before a mammogram or other screening method could. So, while mammography relies on finding the physical tumor, thermography can detect the new blood vessels and chemical changes associated with a tumor's growth. Another screening test is ultrasound. Also painless and non-invasive, ultrasound uses high frequency sound waves that bounce off breast tissue and convert them into an image of the breast's interior, called a sonogram. This procedure helps distinguish between solid masses and harmless cysts and may prevent the need for breast biopsy. This tends to be most effective for younger women with dense breast tissue. It is nice to know that women have more options today than just a mammogram. If you would like more information about either of these other two methods, contact Lynn Dudley, PA at 301-490-9911 at Dr. Mark Sivieri's office.