Although symptoms may suggest that cancer is present, the use of diagnostic imaging can help confirm whether the cancer really exists. The following are imaging tests that may be conducted in diagnosing breast cancer:
- Diagnostic mammograms are x-rays of the breast where several images are taken of the area in question. Advanced diagnostic centers offer digital mammograms where the images are recorded, viewed and stored on a computer. Also, the use of digital mammography can allow for images to be sent electronically to other physicians or hospitals.
- MRI scans of the breast use radio waves and a strong magnet in reproducing detailed images of the body. MRIs can be used in combination with mammograms in detecting cancer for high risk individuals or can be used to better assess an abnormal area.
- Breast ultrasound is a test that uses sound waves to create an image of organs and tissue within the body. Ultrasounds are typically used to differentiate between benign and cancerous tumors. Breast ultrasounds should be used in combination with mammograms.
- Ductogram is a test that examines the ducts where nipple discharge occurs. This is done by injecting contrast medium into the affected duct. An image is produced of the duct structure displaying any abnormalities.