Other imaging modalities for breast cancer screening can also include:
- MRI Breast or
- Ultrasound Breast.
While Mammogram remains the most reliable form of screening for breast cancer, it also has its own limitations which may then require these extra imaging modalities to come into play.
Ultrasound uses sound waves to look at internal structures of the breast.
The benefits of ultrasound include being able to visualize lumps better in people with dense breast tissue and also providing information on the nature of the breast lump.
Ultrasound scan also does not use any radiation which makes it safe for people who are unable to take radiation eg pregnancy.
While ultrasound breast is a good modality for evaluating breast masses, it also has its limitations. Ultrasound cannot pick up small calcifications which can be seen with a mammogram.
As such, it is always important to use them in conjunction with mammogram, if clinically required.
MRI uses a powerful magnetic field to visualize soft tissues and all other structures in the breast.
Hence, MRI can offer valuable information that cannot be obtained through other imaging modalities such as mammogram and ultrasound.
MRI breast is usually done as a screening tool for people who are at high risk of breast cancer (eg strong family history of breast cancer), determining the extent of cancer after a new diagnosis of breast cancer, or to evaluate lumps which cannot be accurately evaluated by mammogram or ultrasound.
The benefits of MRI breast are that it is a useful modality to evaluate women at high risk of breast cancer, and it can successfully image women with denser breasts or with breast implants.
While MRI is generally safe, the downsides are that it requires more resources and higher costs in conducting the scan compared to the other imaging modalities.