BREAST

Expertise when it matters most

Breast scans are used to screen for breast cancer when it is too small to see or feel. In the UK all women from 50 to 70 who are registered with a GP are invited for breast screening every three years. In some parts of England, invites for screening are sent between the ages of 47 and 73 as part of a trial.

The advantage of breast screening is that cancers that are caught early before they have spread are easier to treat. The disadvantage is that sometimes women are treated for a breast cancer that would not have caused any problems. On balance, however, doctors recommend screening for peace of mind.

Around one in eight women in the UK are diagnosed with breast cancer during their lifetime. If picked up early there is a good chance of recovery.

  • A lump in the breast or armpit
  • A change in the size or shape of the breast
  • A change in the skin, such as dimpling, or the skin feeling thicker
  • Inverted (turned in) nipple
  • Leaking discharge from the nipple
  • A rash on the breast or nipple
  • Discomfort or pain in the breast that does not go away

Types of Breast scans that are available:

This type of scan may be offered as part of a routine breast-screening programme or if as part of further investigation following routine screening. During the examination the patient will be asked to undress to the waist and stand in front of the mammography machine. Each breast will be placed one at a time on the X-ray machine and pressed down firmly on the surface by a clear plate. Several images will be taken from the top, bottom and sides.

This is often used in addition to a mammogram as it provides different information about the breasts and can be used to guide a biopsy needle into a lump or cyst.

Sometimes small samples of tissue may be taken. This is called a core biopsy or core needle biopsy. A local anaesthetic is used and then a small cut is made in the skin so that samples of tissue can be taken. If the area of concern can only be seen on a mammogram a stereotactic core biopsy may be required, which locates the precise area to be biopsied. In some cases wire localisation or inserting a metal marker is used to assist the surgeon if the area is small or difficult to see on a mammogram.

These may also be used to take small samples of tissue or cells for analysis.

This type of biopsy is used if a previous biopsy has given unclear results or if the area that needs to be scanned is difficult to target. The procedure uses a mammogram or ultrasound to guide the biopsy. A small cut is made in the skin and hollow probe connected to a vacuum device is inserted. A small amount of breast tissue is then sucked through the probe using the vacuum. Sometimes a similar procedure is used as an alternative to surgery to remove breast tissue. This is referred to as vacuum assisted excision

For fast, reliable radiology services, contact Windsor Radiology

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