Investigating Breast Symptoms

Breast cancer is something that women world over are worried about. And it is necessary that in order to detect conditions early they come in for regular checkups. A good history and examination are excellent ways of being able to detect various breast conditions, investigations are the factors that help us reach a definitive diagnosis. It is what helps us confirm anything with regard to the suspicions we may have. Examination precedes palpation and requires careful observation of the patient both with the arms at rest and also elevated to lift the breast. Small benign breast lumps may betray their presence by dimpling or minor distortions when the patient moves. Mammography or soft tissue radiographs are carried by keeping the breast directly in contact with ultrasensitive film. It is then exposed to a low voltage-ray with a high ampere count. The radiation dosage is around 0.1 cGy and this is the reason a mammography is considered a safe investigation. The sensitivity of this investigation increases with age as the breast becomes less dense. In total, 5 per cent of breast cancers are missed by population-based mammographic screening programs, even in retrospect, such carcinomas are not apparent.

Thus, a normal mammogram does not exclude the presence of carcinoma. Digital mammography is being introduced, which allows manipulation of the images and computer-aided diagnosis. Another investigation that you will have to face at a clinic even one that does is the Ultrasound which is a form of investigation which is extremely useful in young patients. Because a mammography cannot be easily conducted in young women due to the increased levels of fat tissue present in their breasts, compared to that of older women. Therefore it becomes difficult to tell the difference between cysts and solid lesions in them. Ultrasound is also used to localize impalpable areas of breast pathology. It is not useful as a screening investigation because it is operator dependent. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is of more importance to breast surgeons in a number of settings. It can be helpful in distinguishing a scar from a recurrence in women who may have undergone breast therapy previously for cancer (although it is less accurate within nine months of radiotherapy because of abnormal enhancement). It is less useful than ultrasound in the management of the axilla in both primary breast cancer and recurrent disease. Although biopsies can also be performed with MRI guidance this is complicated because of the configuration of the imaging system. With improved ultrasound equipment, an MRI-detected lesion can often be found on a second-look ultrasound and biopsied using this modality.breast-treatments