With any positive finding on mammography, radiologists often recommend advanced breast imaging to further help identify the finding on mammography. New technology has joined mammography in the detection and treatment of breast cancer.
Ultrasound works by sending high-frequency sound waves into the breast. The pattern of echoes from these sound waves is converted to an image (sonogram) of the breast's interior. Breast ultrasound which is painless and harmless, can distinguish between tumors that are solid, and cysts filled with fluid. Sonograms of the breast can also help radiologists evaluate some lumps that can be felt but are hard to see on a mammogram, especially in dense breasts of young women. Unlike mammography, ultrasound cannot pick up small tumors nor detect the microcalcifications that sometimes indicate cancer
Computed tomography or CT scanning uses a computer to organize and stack information from multiple x-rays, cross-sectional views of a body's organ or area. Once processed, the information is displayed as an image on a video screen. CT scanning can separate overlapping structures precisely and sometimes is helpful in locating breast abnormalities that are difficult to pinpoint with mammography or ultrasound. For instance, a tumor so close to the chest wall that it shows up in only one mammographic view.
Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and Positron emission tomography (PET)
MRI uses a large magnet to surround the patient along with radio frequencies and a computer to produce its images.
PET scanning uses signals from radioactive traces to construct images. Laser beam scanning shines a powerful laser beam through the breast, while a special camera on the far side of the breast records the image.
These tests can identify microcalcifications that sometimes indicate cancer. If used when a breast tumor is identified, they help by evaluating the surrounding tissue and lymph nodes for metastatic spread.