Breast cancer begins when abnormal cells in the breast grow out of control. These cells form tumors that can grow into the surrounding tissue and spread to other parts of the body.
Generally, women should start getting breast exams using mammography or ultrasound after they turn 40.
Women ages 18 to 39 should to talk to their primary care provider and ask for what’s called a formal risk assessment to see if screening is needed sooner. Make sure your care provider is giving you a breast exam starting at age 25.
To schedule a 3D mammogram or total breast ultrasound, call:
Breast Cancer Risk Factors
Non-Controllable Risk Factors
- Being a woman
- Dense breast tissue
- Personal history of breast or other cancers
- Family history of breast or other cancers
- Previous breast biopsy with abnormal results
- Previous radiation to the chest
Controllable Risk Factors
- Alcohol abuse
- Being overweight
- Lack of exercise
- Hormone use
Patients with a genetic mutation predisposing them to breast cancer may be eligible for genetic counseling and testing.
Breast Cancer Screening
3D Digital Mammograms
Mammograms play an important role in early breast cancer detection because they can spot signs of cancer that are too small or subtle to feel.
In a traditional 2D mammogram, the tech takes x-rays of the breast. These pictures can show the radiologist if there are any lumps or tumors you might not be able to feel.
The 3D mammography technology at Renown Breast Health Center is largely the same, but more x-rays are taken and it takes a few seconds longer for each image. This kind of exam detects 41 percent more cancers and reduces the number of false-positive results given to patients.
This improvement in technology is great for both patients and their care providers. 3D mammography provides better images which allow doctors to see more abnormalities in the breast and therefore, helps doctors spot more cancers and avoid false positives especially in women with dense breast tissue. The digital images can also be lightened, darkened and enlarged in real-time, giving doctors a better look at suspicious areas.
Patients with a high risk may be eligible for additional testing.
We recommend these exams for patients whose mammograms have shown that they have dense breast tissue. Dense breast tissue and cancer both look white on a mammogram (right). As doctors explain, it's like trying to find a snowball in a snow storm.
If your mammogram shows you have dense breasts (less fatty, more connective tissue) you may want to consider a 3D Total Breast Ultrasound in addition to your 3D mammogram.
Check with your insurance company to find out if this type of ultrasound is covered.
Image A - Tiny cancers, which are white, are easily visible in fatty breasts, which show up dark on a mammogram.
Image B - Dense breast tissue shows up white on the mammogram. Cancers, which are also white, can be very hard to detect.
Watch the Your Breast Health Video Series
The Importance of Screenings
Beyond a Routine Mammogram
The Latest Technology