Before we jump into what medical imaging’s role in breast cancer detection is, we want to address one of the most basic ways that you can detect breast cancer in the early stages and yield better outcomes. Self breast exams should be done on yourself each month and by a medical provider at your annual checkup and with your Pap smear. If you have had a hysterectomy or gone through menopause, it is important to continue with breast exams.
How to Perform a Self Breast Exam
To perform a self breast exam, you should select a day that can remain consistent each month — it is recommended to conduct breast exams 3 to 5 days after the start of your period, when your breasts are the least tender and have the least number of hormonal lumps. Your arm should be held above your head and you can stand in front of the mirror, lay on your bed, or stand in the shower. Using the pads of your three middle fingers gently, but firmly, massage your breast in a circular pattern from the outside of your breast tissue, including armpit, to the center, including the nipple.
If you detect a lump, even a small one, make an appointment for a mammogram — Touchstone Imaging doesn’t require a physician’s order for a screening mammogram — or an exam with your primary care provider or gynecologist.
The Role of Medical Imaging in Prevention and Detection of Breast Cancer
Women’s medical imaging is essential at detecting breast cancer and monitoring the effectiveness of treatment. At Touchstone Imaging, our women’s imaging services include mammogram — screening, diagnostic, 3D — breast MRI, and breast ultrasound, among other non-breast cancer-related services. Let’s highlight a few of these services and their role in the prevention and detection of breast cancer.
Mammograms are non-invasive low-density x-rays that can be used for the detection and diagnosis of breast cancer. Mammogram machines use special technology that allows for maximal visualization of the breast tissue. Mammograms can detect small lumps up to two years before they can be found. Current American Cancer Society breast cancer screening guidelines suggest that women speak with their provider to determine the best time to begin annual mammograms. Suggestions may vary based on personal and genetic risk factors. Generally speaking, women should schedule annual screening mammograms beginning by age 45 and may reduce to every other year beginning at age 50. Women are recommended to continue getting regular mammograms throughout their lives.
At Touchstone Imaging, we provide several types of mammograms and do not require a physician’s order to complete a screening mammogram. Just simply make an appointment or stop by one of our locations today.
Breast ultrasound is a medical imaging procedure that uses sound wave technology to perform further investigation after a mammogram detects irregular tissue. A breast ultrasound is useful for determining if a mass that is felt or seen on mammogram is a solid mass or fluid-filled. Fluid-filled masses are cysts, whereas, solid masses are more likely to be cancerous tumors and require further investigation.
Breast ultrasound may be useful for dense breast tissue or in the event that a woman cannot have a mammogram. Breast ultrasound should not replace a mammogram, but is used as a supplementary investigative tool or to offer medically-indicated alternative to breast cancer detection.
At Touchstone Imaging Centers, our radiology technicians can use breast ultrasound to take a better look at your breast tissue. Find a Touchstone Imaging location near you and schedule your appointment today.
A breast MRI is an alternative to mammogram and ultrasound that uses magnetic waves instead of x-ray or sound waves like other breast cancer detection methods. Breast MRI uses a different method than a typical MRI to help isolate the breast tissue. A breast MRI may be used once another imaging modality has revealed cancer to stage the disease and determine the full extent of the cancer. It is not recommended to use a breast MRI instead of other screening tests or a biopsy, but for women at high risk of breast cancer or a history of breast cancer, mammogram and breast MRI can be used together.
At Touchstone Imaging Centers, we offer breast MRI at our Fort Worth – Rosedale, Keller, and Red Oak locations. Our radiology technologists can perform breast MRIs at any stage in your diagnosis or treatment. Our radiologists provide reliable and accurate interpretations to your physician.
At Touchstone Imaging Centers, we know the importance of the role of our work in your cancer prognosis. We take our medical imaging services seriously and put forth the best equipment and employ the best technologists and radiologists who use their skills to help you in your journey. From the moment you schedule your appointment until the final outcome, our team is here to support you and give you the care you need to garner the best outcome. This October, in honor of national breast cancer awareness month, we encourage every woman and high-risk man to schedule their breast cancer screening mammogram or exam. Visit us online to find a location near you and contact us to schedule your appointment.