Mammogram | Everything You Need to Know About Mammograms

Breast cancer mammogram

Breast cancer mammogram

Since a breast lump or mass usually has a higher density than the surrounding tissue, the radiologist primarily looks for high density white spots. If one or more such findings are discovered, additional imaging studies may be ordered such as an ultrasound or magnetic resonance imaging MRI.

One drawback of imaging studies in general is that they cannot determine whether a breast mass is benign or malignant. For this, a tissue biopsy is often needed. The key distinction between benign and malignant tumours is that malignant tumours can spread to the rest of the body, a process known as metastasis, while benign tumours do not metastasize. This does not mean that benign tumours are harmless, they can cause discomfort and cosmetic disfigurement, but they have a much lower mortality rate. To decide if a tumour is benign or malignant, it is necessary to examine a portion of it under a powerful microscope. The process of extracting a part of the tumour for diagnostic purposes is called a tissue biopsy. It is often done using a needle after applying an anaesthetic. Thus, a full diagnosis of a breast mass is reached by using what medical professionals call a triple assessment. This begins with a clinical examination of the patient’s breast, then one or more radiological studies, and finally a tissue biopsy.

It is not always easy to differentiate a benign finding from a more dangerous lesion, which hich is why we recommend bringing any previously taken mammograms when you go to get a new one, so that the radiologists can compare the old and the new.