Breast Screening Technologies: What Is Right for You?

By: Renown Wellness Team

January 16, 2019

Two African American women in pink, high fives

Early detection is a significant piece in the breast cancer puzzle. Dr. Susan Ward, a radiologist who specializes in breast imaging, talks about what you need to watch for and how new technology can help you spot it sooner.

When should women start getting breast exams?

It depends on whether they are at average risk or high risk. For average risk women, most medical organizations recommend the first mammogram between the ages of 40 and 44. For higher risk women, it depends what their high risk is, and that will dictate when they start screening. But generally around the age of 30 and not before 25 years old.

Breast Cancer Stages

Breast cancer stages graphic

What are the risk factors for breast cancer? Are there any preventive steps women can take?

There are some risk factors that are controllable. These risk factors have an association with how estrogen is managed in the body, such as weight and alcohol consumption. It’s recommended to limit alcohol consumption, because alcohol is metabolized in the liver, which can vary the amount of estrogen in the body.

2-D and 3-D Mammography

Two-dimensional imaging is our standard mammogram, which acquires digital images that can be manipulated on a screen. More recently, most women get a 3D mammogram (also called tomosynthesis), which takes multiple images in multiple planes. The experience is the same for the patient, with compression from side to side or top to bottom and computer manipulation of those images so they can be displayed together into a single view.

And what about a whole breast ultrasound. What is that?

This is designed as an additional screening tool alongside mammogram for women with dense breast tissue. The goal of whole-breast ultrasound is to find small, invasive cancers of less than a centimeter in size.