Breast cancer has a considerable impact on public health in the United States, and early detection through regular screening efforts has been critical in improving long-term outcomes for individuals affected by the disease. For most women, screening recommendations include regular self breast examinations, annual clinical breast examinations, and annual screening mammography examinations beginning at the age of 40 years. For others, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is recommended as an additional screening tool. Effective breast cancer screening is critical to achieve consistent, early disease detection and reduce the need for unnecessary biopsies to distinguish between benign and malignant disease. Radiologic science professionals play an important role in the breast cancer screening process, and are often the only professionals that individuals encounter during their examination. Technologists should therefore have an understanding of current mammography and MRI practices, as well as the use of advanced modalities in screening applications, so that they are in a position to answer questions that arise and put their clients at ease. This article will review standard breast cancer screening modalities, risk factors that require additional screening efforts, and advanced modalities that are under development to improve the quality and utility of breast imaging.
After reading this article, the participant should be able to:
- Understand the relative impact of breast cancer disease among women in the United States.
- Cite individual patient factors that are considered when recommending a plan for breast cancer screening.
- Describe the potential value of digital versus screen-film mammography screening.
- Identify individuals who require magnetic resonance imaging screening in addition to mammography.
- Understand the role of sonography in breast cancer screening.
- Discuss tools to identify women at an increased risk of developing breast cancer.