There are guidelines for routine screening mammography established by the National Cancer Institute. The factors that are very important in determining the appropriate age for a first, and subsequent mammograms are age, patient history, and family history. Even if the guidelines suggest that you are too young, say 10 years younger than recommended, for mammography, it may be a good idea to have a “baseline” mammogram before, and six months after breast enhancement surgery. This is because breast enlargement surgery makes scars on the inside of the augmented breast which can calcify and fool mammographic examiners as to the cause of the calcium deposits. This would then lead to an unnecessary biopsy, which has the potential to add scars, distort breast tissue, or cause implant rupture. For NCI information on breast cancer screening, please see below.
Breast Cancer Screening
- Different tests are used to screen for cancer.
- Three tests are commonly used to screen for breast cancer:
- New screening tests are being studied in clinical trials.
Some screening tests are used because they have been shown to be helpful both in finding cancers early and in decreasing the chance of dying from these cancers. Other tests are used because they have been shown to find cancer in some people; however, it has not been proven in clinical trials that use of these tests will decrease the risk of dying from cancer.
Scientists study screening tests to find those with the fewest risks and most benefits. Cancer screening trials also are meant to show whether early detection (finding cancer before it causes symptoms) decreases a person’s chance of dying from the disease. For some types of cancer, finding and treating the disease at an early stage may result in a better chance of recovery.
Clinical trials that study cancer screening methods are taking place in many parts of the country. Information about ongoing clinical trials is available from the NCI Web site.
Three tests are commonly used to screen for breast cancer:
A mammogram is an x-ray of the breast. This test may find tumors that are too small to feel. A mammogram may also find ductal carcinoma in situ, abnormal cells in the lining of a breast duct, which may become invasive cancer in some women. The ability of a mammogram to find breast cancer may depend on the size of the tumor, the density of the breast tissue, and the skill of the radiologist.
2.) Clinical breast exam (CBE)
A clinical breast exam is an exam of the breast by a doctor or other health professional. The doctor will carefully feel the breasts and under the arms for lumps or anything else that seems unusual.
If a lump or other abnormality is found using one of these 3 tests, ultrasound may be used to learn more. It is not used by itself as a screening test for breast cancer. Ultrasound is a procedure in which high-energy sound waves (ultrasound) are bounced off internal tissues or organs and make echoes. The echoes form a picture of body tissues called a sonogram.
New screening tests are being studied in clinical trials.
MRI (magnetic resonance imaging)
MRI is a procedure that uses a magnet, radio waves, and a computer to make a series of detailed pictures of areas inside the body. This procedure is also called nuclear magnetic resonance imaging (NMRI). Screening trials of MRI in women with a high genetic risk of breast cancer have shown that MRI is more sensitive than mammography for finding breast tumors.
MRI scans are used to make decisions about breast masses that have been found by a clinical breast exam or a breast self-exam. MRIs also help show the difference between cancer and scar tissue. MRI does not use any x-rays.
Breast tissue sampling is taking cells from breast tissue to examine under a microscope. Abnormal cells in breast fluid have been linked to an increased risk of breast cancer in some studies. Scientists are studying whether breast tissue sampling can be used to find breast cancer at an early stage or predict the risk of developing breast cancer. Three methods of tissue sampling are under study:
- Fine-needle aspiration: A thin needle is inserted into the breast tissue around the areola (darkened area around the nipple) to withdraw cells and fluid.
- Nipple aspiration: The use of gentle suction to collect fluid through the nipple. This is done with a device similar to the breast pumps used by nursing women.
- Ductal lavage: A hair-size catheter (tube) is inserted into the nipple and a small amount of salt water is released into the duct. The water picks up breast cells and is removed.
Screening clinical trials are taking place in many parts of the country. Information about ongoing clinical trials is available from the NCI Web site.”