As women move into middle age, they are often urged by their doctors to get a mammogram to screen for breast cancer. However, new research has found potential health risks associated with this test. There are alternative tests and screenings available for detecting breast cancer that contain less, if not any, radiation. However, women need to be their own health advocate and talk to their doctors about the benefits and risks of these screenings.
Traditional Mammography vs Ultrasound
Traditional mammography uses low levels of radiation to take an x-ray of breast tissue. Although mammographies are considered the standard test for breast cancer screening, there are many women for whom this test is inaccurate. For example, radiologists and doctors regularly report that mammography performed on women with dense breast tissue do not reveal breast cancer tumors.
Ultrasound, in contrast, is able to penetrate tissue regardless of the density of the breast. Ultrasound utilizes sound waves that are bounced against body tissue. As a result, it poses substantially less health risk for most women.
A recent study by St. Mark’s Breast Centre in Auckland, New Zealand reported that Ultrasound has been found to be approximately three times more accurate than traditional x-ray mammography. This is particularly true for women with 50 percent or higher breast density levels.
The downside of ultrasound is the amount of time it takes for the test. Ultrasound often requires 20 to 30 minutes to perform. Traditional x-ray mammography takes approximately five to 10 minutes. As a result, many ultrasound centers have long waiting periods for examination appointments.
For women who have a history of breast cancer or who have dense breast tissue, ultrasound may be the best option for detecting potentially dangerous tumors. Breast cancer is one of the leading causes of death for women. However, if detected early, it can be treated successfully, allowing women to live long lives afterward.
Have you had a breast cancer screening that was not a mammogram? What did you think about it? Let us know in the comments!
– The Alternative Daily