When it comes to any kind of cancer, early detection is key. This is especially true for breast cancer, which has a 93% or higher five-year survival rate, and more available treatment options, when found in its early stages. The even better news is that the breast cancer screening tools we use today are highly effective at detecting the earliest signs, often proving to be lifesaving.
The most well-known and commonly used tool for breast cancer screening is a mammogram. But breast ultrasounds are another useful tool for detection and diagnosis of cancer and other benign breast problems. Understanding the difference between the two will help you decide which procedure might be best for you.
What is a breast ultrasound?
A breast ultrasound is a noninvasive method of imaging breast tissue using sound waves to produce pictures on a computer. Unlike a mammogram, there is no radiation involved. During an ultrasound, a technician will apply gel and use a transducer wand to go over your breasts, sending waves to the computer that create images.
Breast ultrasounds are often used to assess unusual mammogram results, as they can tell the difference between cysts and tumors, detect lumps, and detect changes to breast tissue. They are also used as a visual guide during a biopsy.
What is a mammogram?
A mammogram is a method of breast imaging captured using x-ray technology. During a mammogram, you will place your breasts between two plates at chest level, which will push them flat and spread the tissue for better images. Then an x-ray machine will take the pictures.
Mammograms are the most common breast cancer screening tool, as they’re better than ultrasounds at detecting earlier signs of cancer in the form of microcalcifications.
Is a breast ultrasound or a mammogram right for me?
The best breast imaging test for you will depend on a number of factors. For anyone who is recommended to avoid radiation, such as pregnant women, women with breast implants, and women under 30, a breast ultrasound is a safer option.
Generally, a mammogram will be your doctor’s first choice, as the images it can provide are much more detailed, minimizing the risk of something being missed. The two procedures are often used in conjunction to determine the cause of various breast symptoms, such as lumps, discharge, breast pain, and changes in size and shape.
As a full-service women’s health provider, South Avenue Women’s has you covered from head to toe. We offer both mammograms and ultrasounds, as well as other preventative, follow-up diagnostic, and treatment services for all of your women’s healthcare needs.
Get in touch with us today to learn more about the women’s wellness services we offer!