Breast Health Studies

St. Luke's Womens Services

Tests

The following terms may help you better understand these breast health studies that may be recommended for you by your physician.

A doctor may perform a clinical breast exam, review symptoms and refer you for additional testing that may include:

  • Screening mammogram
  • Diagnostic mammogram
  • Breast MRI
  • Breast ultrasound
  • Ultrasound-guided core biopsy
  • Stereotactic core biopsy
  • Galactography
  • Ultrasound-guided cyst aspirations

Screening Mammogram

Screening mammograms are x-ray exams of the breasts that are used for women who have no breast symptoms or signs of breast cancer (such as a previous abnormal mammogram). The goal of a screening mammogram is to find breast cancer when it’s too small to be felt by a woman or her doctor.

Finding breast cancers early (before they have grown and spread) greatly improves a woman’s chance for successful treatment.

A screening mammogram usually takes 2 x-ray pictures (views) of each breast. Some women, such as those with large breasts, may need to have more pictures to see as much breast tissue as possible.

Diagnostic Mammogram

A woman with a breast problem (for instance, a lump or nipple discharge) or an abnormal area found in a screening mammogram typically gets a diagnostic mammogram. Sometimes diagnostic mammograms are done for screening in women without breast problems who were previously treated for breast cancer.

During a diagnostic mammogram, the images are reviewed by the radiologist while you are there so that more pictures can be taken if needed to look more closely at an area of concern. In some cases, special images known as spot views or magnification views are used to make a small area of concern easier to evaluate. Other types of imaging tests such as ultrasound may also be done in addition to the mammogram, depending on the type of problem and where it is in the breast.

A diagnostic mammogram is usually interpreted in one of three ways:

  • It may reveal that an area that looked abnormal on a screening mammogram is actually normal. When this happens, the woman goes back to routine yearly screening.
  • It could show that an area of concern probably is not cancer, but the radiologist may want to watch the area closely. When this happens it’s common to ask the woman to return to be re-checked, usually in 4 to 6 months.
  • The results could also suggest that a biopsy is needed to find out if the abnormal area is cancer. If your doctor recommends a biopsy, it does not mean that you have cancer.

Automated Breast Ultrasound (ABUS)

Breast Ultrasound (ABUS) is available at St. Luke’s Regional Breast Center in Center Valley as a supplemental breast cancer screening exam. Specifically-designed and FDA-approved for women with dense breast tissue, ABUS can provide a clearer, more accurate evaluation of dense breast tissue and can be used to complement screening mammography. ABUS uses sound waves, not radiation, to create state-of-the-art 3D images of the breast tissue. 

Breast MRI 

This non-invasive exam is used to gain information about breast abnormalities detected with mammography, physical exam, or other breast imaging. MRI also may be used for breast implant evaluation, staging breast cancer, evaluating treatment options, and follow-up after treatment is complete. MRI also may be an option for patients with dense breasts and with a strong family history of breast cancer. Please discuss with your physician if Breast MRI is appropriate for you.

Breast Ultrasound 

This is a test that sends high-frequency sound waves into the breast. The pattern from the sound waves is converted into an image of the interior of the breast to help distinguish between tumors which are solid and cysts which are filled with fluid.

  • Ultrasound-guided core biopsy
  • Stereotactic core biopsy
  • Galactography

Gene Expression Profile Testing

St. Luke's uses the genetic profile of an individual's breast cancer to help determine if chemotherapy should be given as an adjuvant therapy. 

Needle Localization of the Breast

This is a technique used prior to surgery to locate and mark a mammographic area of concern in the breast that cannot be felt. Such areas include masses and microcalcifications. 

Ultrasound-Guided Breast Biopsy

Under ultrasound guidance, a breast abnormality is located and, using a specially guided needle, small samples of tissue are removed under local anesthesia and sent to the laboratory for evaluation. 

Ultrasound-Guided Cyst Aspiration

This is an examination using an ultrasound-guided needle to remove fluid from a cyst.

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