There are three primary methods of imaging for the detection of breast cancer: mammography, ultrasound and MRI.
Mammography is the best tool for early detection of breast cancer. Our radiology colleagues at Ascot Radiology utilise the latest digital mammography technology and breast tomosynthesis using less radiation and producing higher-resolution images than older equipment. During the procedure, your breast is compressed and held between two plates while a very low dose of radiation passes through it. If the pictures reveal any abnormality, dense breast tissue or other symptoms, you will also be offered an ultrasound scan.
An ultrasound can provide further information can provide further information about your breast health but it is not a substitute for a mammogram.
Ultrasound uses high-frequency sound waves to differentiate the types of breast tissue including benign (non-cancerous) and malignant (cancerous) lesions. If the ultrasound confirms an abnormality, your doctor will most likely recommend a biopsy. This may be performed either by guided ultrasound (fine needle or core biopsy) or by guided mammogram (stereotactic core biopsy).
A fine needle or core biopsy can often be performed on the same day if required.
Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)
MRI can also be very useful for breast imaging in some circumstances. It takes detailed pictures of your breast by using a powerful magnetic field and radio waves. It does not replace mammography or ultrasound, but provides another tool for breast specialists to obtain additional information.
Breast MRI can be used to:
- Identify the size and spread of cancer, particularly within dense breast tissue
- Assist early detection of breast cancer for women who are at very high risk
- View breast implants to evaluate leaking or damage if necessary.