Breast screening helps to assess breast health in men and women. Since breast cancer rarely presents signs or symptoms in its early stages, regular imaging and evaluation are crucial. While mammography is the most recognized form of breast screening, there are additional examinations and interventions your doctor may recommend.
Insight Medical Imaging provides a comprehensive range of imaging services to evaluate breast-related diseases including ultrasound, nuclear medicine, breast MRI, and minimally invasive alternatives to surgical biopsy, such as core needle aspiration, wire localization, and more.
Our men’s and women’s imaging services are fully accredited by the Canadian Association of Radiology, part of the Alberta Society of Radiologists (ASR) breast imaging database program, and coordinated by Alberta Health Services breast cancer screening program.
All our breast screening facilities have dedicated medical professionals and radiologists on hand five days a week (Monday to Friday) who are qualified to perform a diagnostic follow-up if required.
If you choose Insight for your screening exam and our radiologist recommends additional imaging, we can usually perform it the same day, so you don’t have to coordinate a follow-up exam. This flexibility reduces stress on our patients and provides referring doctors with time-sensitive information as soon as possible.
Why I Have Been Referred by my Doctor
Your doctor may refer you to Insight Medical Imaging for a breast imaging exam to:
- Examine breast tissue even though breast disease symptoms may not be present
- Evaluate abnormal findings following a physical exam, such as lumps, bumps, nipple discharge, differences in breast shape or size, or changes to breast skin, including redness, pitting, peeling, or dimpling
- Diagnose breast cancer and detail tumor development, location, and type
- Assess you if you have a family history of breast cancer
- Evaluate the impact of chemotherapy
- Assess breast implant integrity and check for complications
Choosing Your Location
When booking your exam, you have the option of choosing our dedicated breast health clinic, Lendrum Women’s Imaging. Insight Medical Imaging specifically designed this state-of-the-art facility with our breast imaging patients in mind.
When you visit Lendrum Women’s Imaging, you will find a spacious clinic with a private waiting area, comfortable seating, beverage bar, and other small details to make your exam less stressful.
Screening for Breast Cancer
Early detection is the best defence against breast cancer. Talk to your doctor about your breast health and discuss the benefits of non-invasive screening exams. We recommend regular screening mammograms, routine physical examinations, and breast self-awareness.
Adopting healthier lifestyle choices has also been shown to reduce your risk for breast cancer. You know your body better than anyone; if something doesn’t look or feel right, don’t panic.
Most women have some lumps in their breasts, and many are benign (non-cancerous). Lumps can be caused by several non-cancerous factors such as regular hormonal changes, an injury, or a breast cyst. The first step in prevention is contacting your doctor to start a conversation.
What does a breast lump feel like?
In general, cancerous breast lumps tend to be more irregular in shape. They may also feel firm or solid and might be fixed to the tissue in the breast. They are also often painless, however, in a small percentage of women, a painful breast lump turns out to be cancer. These lumps vary in size; typically, a lump has to be about one centimetre (about the size of a large lima bean) before a person can feel it. However, it depends on where the lump arises in the breast, how big the breast is, and how deep the lesion is. If you feel a lump in your breast, try not to panic or worry. Most lumps are not breast cancer, but something less serious, such as a benign breast condition. Simply contact your physician as soon as possible to find out more.
Step by step guide on how a mammogram is done
The patient will stand in front of a special X-ray machine while a technologist places the breast on a plastic plate, and another plate will firmly press the breast from above. The plates will flatten it, to hold it still while the X-ray is being taken. Note that you will feel some pressure during this time. The steps will then be repeated to make a side view of the breast and the other breast will be X-rayed in the same way. You will then wait while the technologist checks the four X-rays to make sure the pictures do not need to be re-done. Keep in mind that the technologist cannot tell you the results of your mammogram. Also, remember that each woman’s mammogram may look a little different because all breasts are a little different.
Differences between breast ultrasound and mammogram
Mammography uses a low-dose X-ray to either screen for or diagnose breast diseases while a breast ultrasound uses high-frequency sound waves to image internal tissues and structures of the breast. The images (mammograms) captured during mammography help our team look for malignant and benign abnormalities in the breast before physical symptoms are present. In the fight against breast disease, early detection is crucial. In contrast to mammography, a breast ultrasound is a non-invasive procedure that uses zero radiation and is safe for pregnant or breastfeeding women. Breast ultrasound is the most accessible exam of choice for any patients with dense breast tissue, under the age of 35, or are pregnant
The pressure against your breasts from the testing equipment may cause pain or discomfort, however, this is completely normal. This part of the process should only last for a few minutes. Still, it is important to let your technologist know if you are experiencing extreme pain or discomfort.
Each patient is different, and as such, there is no regulated time as to when the results of your mammogram will be available to you. However, the average time is within two weeks. If your results are not available to you contact your physician to find out more. In cases where the mammogram is a follow-up test, the results take less time and in some cases may be available to you before you leave the appointment.
The best time to get a mammogram is usually one week following your period. Try not to book your appointment on the week before you get your period or the week of your period as your breasts may be tender or swollen. If you have pre-booked your appointments for those times and need to re-book or talk to a professional, contact us today.
Annual Screening Mammography is recommended for those 40-49 years old. Women in this age group tend to have higher breast density (which can obscure small early cancers) and cancers tend to grow more rapidly.
Yes, men can get breast cancer although it is rare. The symptoms of breast cancer in men include lump/swelling in the breast, redness/flaky skin in the breast, irritation/dimpling of breast skin, and nipple discharge. Remember, these symptoms can also happen with other conditions that are not cancer. If you have any symptoms that worry you, see your doctor right away.
The breast screening exam should only take a few minutes and, in general, the whole screening appointment should be completed within 30 minutes.
The main benefit of the breast screening exam is the potential reduction in mortality from breast cancer. Additionally, the cancers detected in breast screening are, when detected early enough, smaller and are less likely to be treated by invasive surgery or therapy.
Being prepared for your breast screening helps us take the best possible samples for diagnosis. Learn more about exam preparation and find the clinic most convenient for you.