It’s no secret that early breast cancer detection saves lives. That’s why Tower Health offers a wide range of screening and diagnostic tools. Our use of the latest imaging technology helps us find cancer in any type of breast — even if you have dense breast tissue or breast implants.
The Importance of Mammograms
Mammography is an imaging procedure that takes X-ray pictures of the breast. There are two main types of mammograms:
- Routine screening mammograms look for the first signs of cancer in women who don’t have symptoms. They can find a tumor up to two years before it is large enough to be felt.
- If something looks suspicious on your screening mammogram — or you’ve developed unusual breast changes — you may undergo a diagnostic mammogram. This is a longer procedure because it captures more pictures of your breast from more angles. Diagnostic mammograms also show the breast tissue in more detail.
Most women begin having yearly mammograms at age 40 (or sooner if you’re high-risk)
Advanced 3D Mammography Helps Ensure Accuracy
Because breast cancer screening is so important, we offer 3D mammograms. Also known as digital breast tomosynthesis, 3D mammograms are considered the gold standard in screening mammography. That’s because they provide clearer pictures and are better at showing abnormalities in women with dense breast tissue.
Studies have shown that patients who are screened with 3D mammography are less likely to need a follow-up mammogram. They are also less likely to show a false positive — which can result in extra appointments and unnecessary tests.
Additional Breast Imaging Services We Offer
Some patients need tests that can show suspicious areas in more detail than a mammogram alone. For women with breast implants, dense breast tissue, or a strong family history of breast cancer, advanced imaging procedures may improve detection. These include:
- Breast magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Breast MRI takes detailed, 3D pictures of the breast. It can confirm the extent of breast cancer and helps surgeons create treatment plans. It also can help doctors see how well chemotherapy or radiation treatments are working.
- Breast ultrasound. Doctors may use this test to take a closer look at the breast after an abnormal mammogram. Compared to a mammogram, it is better at showing the area closest to the chest wall. It can also help doctors tell the difference between a solid, cancerous tumor and benign (noncancerous), fluid-filled cysts.
If your breast imaging test shows an abnormality, your doctor will need to see if there are cancer cells in that part of the breast. To do this, they will take a small amount of tissue from your breast and look at it under a microscope. This procedure is called a biopsy.
In most cases, we use imaging technology to make sure we’re collecting tissue from the right spot. And we use minimally invasive techniques to remove the tissue. This combination, known as image-guided biopsies, includes:
- Ultrasound-guided biopsy. A radiologist uses ultrasound imaging to locate the target area, then removes pieces of tissue through a needle.
- MRI-guided biopsy. Uses an MRI scanner to guide the biopsy needle to the correct location.
- Stereotactic biopsy. Uses mammography to find the area of concern and guide the biopsy needle into place.
The type of biopsy you will need depends on several factors. These include the size of the mass, where in the breast it’s located, and whether there is more than one.
A Leader in Safe, Sophisticated Breast Imaging
Tower Health has locations accredited by the American College of Radiology for the following breast imaging services:
- Breast MRI
- Breast ultrasound
This distinction confirms we meet or exceed strict standards for image quality and patient safety.
Visit Chestnut Hill for Free Screening Mammograms
Lack of insurance shouldn’t keep you from having a potentially lifesaving mammogram. Chestnut Hill Hospital offers free screening mammograms to women who qualify. Eligible patients must:
- Live in certain zip codes
- Have no health insurance
- Be 40-64 years old
- Have a household income at or below 250% of the federal poverty annual guideline.
To find out if you qualify, please call 215-248-8395.