There are many new screening techniques showing promising results for the detection of breast cancer. Scientists have recently discovered a new way of testing for breast cancer that could make mammograms a thing of the past. The test is safer and potentially far more accurate than current mammograms.
Screening tests are designed to uncover indications of a disease in people
who have no symptoms. Public health organizations recommend screening tests by assessing the test’s benefit versus its risk. If it can identify a disease early enough to allow for treatment, and the likelihood of missing the disease or showing up as positive when it’s not (causing unnecessary procedures), then the test is recommended.
Researchers are continuing to look for better screening methods because many tumors still show up between tests. Health experts have long advised different breast screening schedules for women at different ages. New information is continuously being released for breast cancer screening. Some screening intervals and technologies may be more effective than others for certain groups of women. This is the newest information to ask your doctor about at your next visit. These tests could revolutionize the future of breast cancer care by providing more accurate detection. Learn about these mammogram alternatives to see if they could be right for you:
- MRI. In addition to being less painful, the advantage of MRIs over mammograms is that they provide more detailed images and can show increased or abnormal blood flow in the breast, a possible indication of cancer that can’t be seen on a mammogram. MRIs are also better than for women with dense breasts. The downside to MRI’s is that they lead to many more false-positive results than mammograms and are much more expensive and not all insurers cover the cost. Unlike mammograms, MRIs do not expose women to radiation. Instead, they create images with a magnet and radio waves.
- Ductal lavage. Ductal lavage is a screening tool used to detect breast cancer in women at high risk of breast cancer before it starts. Cells are collected from the milk ducts of the breast for analysis. The procedure is used to identify precancerous cells. This procedure is currently is performed only on women who have multiple breast cancer risk factors to try to detect breast cancer before it starts.
- Breast thermography. Breast thermography, also called infrared imaging, is a painless, non-invasive technique which uses a special camera and computer analysis to measure and map abnormal blood flow in the breast that may or may not suggest cancer. Hot spots may indicate an area where new blood vessels are forming to feed a tumor. If, for example, thermography finds one in the left breast that isn’t present in the right, the difference might suggest an abnormality although this isn’t necessarily cancer. Breast thermography has been approved by the FDA as a safe test, but not as effective as others at this point.
- Saliva test. This screening test checks a woman’s saliva for evidence of 49 identified proteins in saliva that can actually distinguish healthy women from those with benign breast tumors and those with malignant breast tumors. One day, it may be possible for your dentist to perform this simple test during your twice yearly dental check-up. Whichever screening test you and your doctor decide are right for you, make sure you are vigilant about breast cancer detection. If you notice any changes in your breasts, such as a new lump or skin changes, make sure you talk with your doctor for an evaluation.