There are many ways of approaching breast imaging, and because there are so many technologies, people get confused. According to WebMD, the standard screening method for women is the X-ray imaging of the breast, or mammography. Mammography is fantastic at identifying little tiny white dots on a mammogram, which represent calcifications, the earliest stage of breast cancer.
A weakness of mammography would be in the setting of a woman who has very dense breast tissue, and that is because dense-breasted women have mammograms that are almost entirely white. Cancer, which is also often seen as a white abnormality, is harder to detect. However, it is still a very good test for screening all women and can reduce mortality from breast cancer.
Another way of looking for breast cancer is with breast ultrasound. Although mammography can find many breast cancers, sometimes ultrasound actually will find others. The problem is that it will miss those little calcium particles. There are other ways of looking at the breast besides mammography and ultrasound. One is MRI, and MRI uses strong magnets to look through the breast tissues. What happens is that those cancers will light up bright. So, it will show little cancers that cannot be seen any other way.
According to Mayo Clinic, there is a new technology called 3D mammography, or also called tomosynthesis. In the early clinical trials, the data has shown that this new technology decreases false positives and increases cancer detection regardless of a woman’s breast density. The way that you take tomosynthesis is the breast is compressed, and then you have extra pictures taken. The images will produce little areas of pictures through the breast so that you can see every little bit of it.