All the examinations you need to do
Valuable for every woman, preventive, diagnostic breast examinations are the most powerful weapons in the treatment of breast cancer. According to international studies and the recommendations of the World Health Organization, its early diagnosis significantly reduces mortality due to it.
Breast cancer has been on the rise in recent years throughout the western world and the need for screening has become more urgent than ever. Breast palpation should become a habit in every woman from an early age so that they can detect any changes in time. However, in addition to the self-examination and the clinical examination, specialized examinations are also necessary. The imaging methods we have at our disposal for the diagnostic access of the breast are in order:
The breast ultrasound examination
A mammogram is an X-ray image of your breasts used to screen for breast cancer. Mammograms play a key role in early breast cancer detection and help decrease breast cancer deaths.
During a mammogram, your breasts are compressed between two firm surfaces to spread out the breast tissue. Then an X-ray captures black-and-white images of your breasts that are displayed on a computer screen and examined by a doctor who looks for signs of cancer.
How often you should have a mammogram depends on your age and your risk of breast cancer
It is the method that allows us the best and most comprehensive depiction of the morphology of the structure, but also of the pathological lesions of the breast. It is a diagnostic gift endowed with very high sensitivity and clarity. Its great value lies in its ability to detect even cancers of just a few millimeters, such as precancerous breast cancer. The microcancer is on the one hand very small in diameter, on the other hand sometimes due to its position, ie when it is located deep behind the breast (in front of the major pectoral muscle), it is very difficult to feel, not only by the woman but also by the surgeon. Mammography also has the ability to highlight known microcalcifications. Calcifications are the deposition of calcium salts, which often accumulate in the milk ducts and may indicate the onset of breast cancer.
It is well known that mammograms should be performed every year from the age of 40 onwards in asymptomatic women – the well-known breast screening – that is, the breast screening for cancer in asymptomatic women. All women over 40 should come and have a mammogram once a year, since when there is malignancy and even in the preclinical stage, the examinee literally saves her life.
Of course, like all imaging methods, mammography has a percentage of 6 to 8% of false positive and false negative findings. The false positives are mainly due to women where the glandular tissue is very dense and so we have pictorial representations of fibrocystic elements. False negatives, because also due to the presence of dense glandular tissue if there is a lesion of very small diameter, it can overlap by neighboring tissues and not be detected.
And since no test is known to be a panacea, so is the test algorithm that follows:
clinical examination, mammography and (if necessary) ultrasound examination, which provides us with a better approach to the structures and pathological lesions of the breast.
Ultrasound examination of the breasts
Ultrasound examination of the breasts is an imaging method which in recent years has contributed a lot to the diagnosis of breast diseases. It is a complementary examination of the mammogram and mainly helps us to clarify whether the mammographic finding is solid or cystic.
In addition, ultrasound is a test which, because it lacks radiation, is performed especially on young people and specifically on young girls aged 20-21 (or even younger). Ultrasound is also indicated in pregnant women throughout the pregnancy for breast examination and especially where there is a suspicion of a palpable finding. It helps us to detect intangible lesions, especially when they are very small and in a position that can not be highlighted. For these very small lesions, with the help of ultrasound, not only do we detect the lesion, but we can also do a guided needle biopsy so that taking material, we can see what exactly it is and after a cytological examination. It also helps in the detection of intraocular lesions in cases where there is fluid, mainly bloody from the nipple. Finally, the ultrasound, in addition to helping us a lot in reading and identifying the various mammographic findings, is also an examination that is considered crucial for surgery.