Mammography or breast ultrasound?

Early diagnosis is the key success factor in cancer treatment, which can save lives. Dr Muhittin Mümtaz Ozarar, MD, specialist radiologist at the Breast Centre with Anadolu Medical Centre talks about the breast diagnostic imaging methods.

What are the breast examination methods?

Usually, breast ultrasound is recommended as a screening procedure for women under 40 years of age. For women, aged above 40, mammography is the preferable examination method.

Furthermore, ultrasound is an explicitly informative auxiliary method assessing the condition of the axillary lymph nodes or when performing biopsy. In addition, ultrasound scan is prescribed to all patients whose mammography has detected suspect sections of compacted tissue in the breast. 

When is the most appropriate time for breast ultrasound?

The ultrasound examination has no restrictions neither with respect to the patient’s age, nor to the time of the examination. It is absolutely safe, painless and does not require any prior preparation. As the ultrasound is not related to the use of ionizing radiation, the procedure may be performed at any stage of pregnancy.

Is there any preparation required for mammography?

Mammography does not require any prior preparation. Doctors do not recommend the use of powder deodorants on the armpits and the neck area in the morning before the procedure. If you experience increased premenstrual breast sensitivity you’d better choose an examination date after your period ends. You will thus avoid the discomfort caused by the pressure on your breasts during the examination.

How often needs screening examination to be performed?

Generally, preventive examinations need to be regularly performed once per annum, starting from the age of 40. Depending on the malignancy risk, some women have to carry out such screenings at an earlier age. The doctor in charge may consult you and provide more detailed information.

How often do I need to get examined if I have a relative with breast cancer?

The frequency of the examinations remains the same. Only the initial date of the annual examinations is changed. If a first-degree relative has been diagnosed with breast cancer before the age of 40 years, then breast ultrasound screening must begin 10 years earlier than the age at which cancer pathology was identified in a family member. For example, if your mother or sister have been diagnosed with cancer at the age of 35, then you need to be annually examined, starting at the age of 25. And, as in this case you would be in the high-risk group, this screening has to include mammography, ultrasound, and MRI of mammary glands.

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