Women with dense breasts or other risk factors may need more advanced diagnostic capabilities, such as 3-D digital mammography, ultrasound and Breast MRI. In addition to full field digital mammography, Sarasota Memorial offers several advanced screening tools and technology, including:
Tomosysnthesis (3D Mammography) – Younger women with dense breasts can benefit the most from tomosynthesis, which provides three-dimensional images of the breast using a technology similar to CT scans. The imaging machine moves around the breast in an arc, taking multiple X-rays that a computer forms into a 3-D image. That allows radiologists to assess several layers of the breast at a time and navigate around tissue that might hide a cancer. Because the tests are new, insurance companies may not cover them. Women who get 3-D imaging still undergo traditional 2-D mammography, as well, so it’s important to discuss this option with your doctor as it involves more radiation than a standard mammogram.
Breast Ultrasound – For patients with dense breasts who are at lower risk for developing breast cancer, ultrasound is often the preferred follow-up to a mammogram. Ultrasound uses high-frequency sound waves and a computer to create images that help diagnose breast abnormalities, such as a benign fluid filled cyst or a solid lump. It can be used to supplement mammography for a woman with dense breasts, but is not typically used as a screening tool or in place of mammography, as calcifications (often the earliest sign of cancer) cannot be well visualized using ultrasound. It also can give false positive readings, so again, it’s important to discuss this option with your doctor.
Breast MRI – Often recommended for women who have had breast cancer before, a family history of breast cancer or those who would benefit from a higher sensitivity, lower radiation screening, magnetic resonance imaging may reveal additional breast cancers obscured on both mammography and ultrasound screening. MRI uses a combination of a large magnet, radiofrequencies and a computer to produce detailed images of breast tissue. MRI does not use radiation, but usually requires the use of a contrast dye to help create clearer images and outline abnormalities. It can also help detect breast cancer in women with breast implants and in younger women with dense breast tissue.
When choosing a testing facility, look for a center that has been designated a “Gold Standard” Breast Imaging Center of Excellence by the American Collegeof Radiology (ACR).