Screening for breast cancer before symptoms occur is important. A mammogram is a breast X-ray to look for problems and help doctors decide overall breast health. You may be able to feel a breast lump that is about the size of a quarter, but a mammogram can often find a lump as small as a pencil eraser. Using special equipment that presses the breast tissue, this test is fast and provides clear, high-quality X-ray images.
- Screening mammogram – An X-ray of the breast used to look for breast disease in women who do not have any symptoms of breast problems. The breast is pressed between two plates to flatten and spread the tissue. An X-ray is taken of the breast from different angles. A radiologist views and interprets the result.
- Diagnostic mammogram – A diagnostic mammogram is used to diagnose breast disease in women and men who have breast symptoms or an abnormal result on a screening mammogram. Fairview Breast Centers and selected Fairview sites perform diagnostic mammograms. A doctor’s referral is required for this type of mammogram.
Performed by trained technicians, a breast ultrasound uses sound waves to make a picture of the inside of the breast. It can show all parts of the breast and does not use X-rays. Breast ultrasounds are used to check abnormal mammogram results, look at dense tissue, watch for changes in a cyst or to see if a lump is fluid-filled or solid.
Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)
Breast MRI is a diagnostic procedure that scans the breast using magnets and radio waves to produce a detailed, cross-sectional image of the breast.