Since October is Breast Cancer Awareness month, this reminder on the many ways available today to detect breast cancer.
First, remember that the gold standard since the 1980's is still mammography. It uses low dose x-rays to pinpoint unusual growths. That's why the American Cancer Society recommends women over age 40 get a mammogram every year.
But, with other screening methods available now, some women with a family history of breast cancer are opting to go one step further and have a breast MRI in addition to a mammogram.
"MRI's has been shown to be very sensitive for detecting breast cancers. It also detects a lot of other benign things." said Dr. Michele Drotman, an Audiologist. She goes on to say "see this area of color shows the vascularity and it is increased in this lateral portion of the left breast. And the characteristics are very suspicious for cancer there."
MRI's are not recommended for all women because it tends to have more false positives than mammography.
Another option is breast ultrasound. But that is normally used on very young women who are not good candidates for mammography. The ultrasound uses sound-waves instead of radiation.
Finally, the A.C.S. says don't forget that sometimes the simplest way to find a lump is by touch. That's why breast self-exams are recommended once a month for women of all ages along with a routine exam by your doctor as part of a yearly physical.