Protecting Breasts from Radiation , Doing Fewer Mammograms and Still Detecting Breast Cancer Safely

Since the main concerns by physicians and patients wondering about when to start and stop, how many and how often to order mammograms, the amount of radiation ultimately affected by those decisions and discomfort and cost, can you use ultrasound to address the concerns. There has not been a study to date that shows that ultrasound can cause harm, it is done without radiation. It is mostly painless (women who have so much pain they can't be touched, still find it a bit uncomfortable, but for most, painless although the gel can be a bit chilly!) and perhaps the cost factor could be addressed. It's not ever been proven sensitive enough to really completely replace mammography. But several studies have shown that if a woman has a specific symptom: a pain, a lump a new change in her exam, the ultrasound test can in fact make a very accurate diagnosis. In fact in young women with dense breasts that are hard to interpret on mammogram, the ultrasound test may even be better in some cases. In a University of Washington funded study their rates of identifying correctly what was going on in women ages 30-39 with their breast symptoms by doing an ultrasound was basically 100% sensitive. Do you have a breast complaint? The answer: see your gyno if you do have symptoms and a simple test called an ultrasound may be just the tool for an accurate diagnosis. Will this lead to fewer mammograms with out the radiation? At least this research group thinks it's possible, and that is a positive step. And the cost: well, we have a lot of changes coming, but bottom line for those who pay out of pocket, negotiation and shopping for value may save health care $ in some cases. It's just a thought!


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