Breast Ultrasound vs. Mammography

Bedford Breast Center

Breast ultrasound and mammography are two effective methods of screening for breast cancer. How do you know which procedure is the right one for you? Or perhaps it’s a combination of both?

Early detection is key to successful treatment of many cancers, especially breast cancer. Breast cancer mortality has decreased in the last 30 years due to advancing technology and comprehensive breast cancer screenings.

Routine self-examinations are a profoundly effective screening tool that identifies any changes, lumps, or bumps. Even though this is a successful method, self-examination alone is not always enough to detect changes in the tissue or the beginning signs of cancer.

Bedford Breast Center is an accredited breast care medical center in Beverly Hills that conducts annual breast screenings to detect breast cancer in its earliest stages. The state-of-the-art facility is the number one breast cancer prevention and surgical center in Beverly Hills that provides superior care to women.

Our expert oncologists and surgeons take time to educate patients on all their options for prevention and treatment for complete personalized care. The center has a number of effective screening options, including breast ultrasounds and mammography.

What is a Screening Ultrasound?

A breast ultrasound is a safe and painless screening tool that uses sound waves to identify if a breast lump is filled with fluid or a solid mass. The sound waves create an image of the breast and internal forms and structures as an alternative to radiation.

It is important to understand that a breast ultrasound does not replace an annual mammogram but acts as a secondary screening for abnormal mammogram results. If a lump is found during a mammogram, a breast ultrasound is the most frequently used next step to identify whether the area has suspicious characteristics or safe characteristics.

A breast ultrasound can also be used as a screening tool when a patient already has a breast cancer diagnosis to look at the lymph nodes under the arms to determine if the cancer has spread. This screening tool can also be used for younger women with dense breast tissue to ensure there are no cancerous masses within the tissue. Visit for more information. 

Advantages of a Breast Ultrasound

There are many advantages to a breast ultrasound, including:

  • Non-invasive and fast procedure
  • Safe for all patients
  • Painless procedure
  • Real-time imaging and results
  • A clearer view of a breast lump for identification

Ultrasound Limitations

A breast ultrasound is an effective screening tool but does not always provide a complete picture or understanding of the breast and what is happening within the breast. Breast ultrasounds do have some disadvantages, including:

  • Cannot detect microcalcifications
  • Creates an image that looks at parts of the breast which makes it harder to compare breast to breast or year to year changes 
  • Images superficial tissue very well but has a difficult time imaging very large or unusually thick breasts 

What is a Screening Mammogram?

A mammogram is a breast screening with x-ray imaging that can show changes in the tissue and detects areas of unusually concentrated tissue that may contain a growth or early signs of breast cancer that can be overlooked on an MRI, self-exam, or ultrasound.

Small clusters of calcium are often the first sign of cancer, and a mammogram is the most effective screening tool for seeing these small dot like areas that typically get lost in the background of other tests like MRI or Ultrasound due to their small size.

The breasts are compressed between two surfaces during the procedure to thin the tissue and capture digital or film images. Women with implants can and should still receive an annual mammogram, which may require additional images.

Traditional mammograms are completed with 2D imaging, and more recent technology developments allow for more effective 3D imaging. Bedford Breast Center offers 3D mammography to patients for a more comprehensive view of the breast and improved clarity in diagnosing breast cancer.

Advantages of a Mammogram

Mammograms are a highly effective tool and key to early detection. They have many advantages, including:

  • Comprehensive exam with complete breast imaging
  • Most effective way to image calcium deposits which can be the earliest signs of cancer 
  • Identified asymmetries and distortions
  • Non-invasive and fast procedure
  • More treatment options available with early detection

Disadvantages of a Mammogram

While a mammogram is the best screening tool for breast cancer, there are some disadvantages, including:

  • Waiting period for results
  • Exposure to small amounts of radiation
  • Risk of overdiagnosis or false alarms

Key Differences Between Mammogram and Breast Ultrasound

There are several key differences between a mammogram and a breast ultrasound. First, a breast ultrasound is not a replacement screening tool for a mammogram but can be conducted in addition to an annual mammogram if a patient has abnormal results.

  • A mammogram uses a low dose of radiation to form comprehensive breast images, whereas an ultrasound uses sound waves to create an image.
  • When it comes to early detection, a mammogram provides a complete photo of the breast that identifies lumps, changes, or asymmetry. In contrast, an ultrasound can provide more detailed imaging and information about a particular area or abnormality.

How to Know Which Is Right for You

A breast ultrasound and mammogram are both practical and effective screening tools used in different situations. All patients should have an annual mammogram, but not all patients require a breast ultrasound.

Bedford Breast Center is a highly distinguished facility with renowned oncologists and surgeons that educate women on breast cancer and different screening, diagnostic, and treatment opportunities.

Our experts help guide women through the screening process and provide custom treatment plans based on each individual’s concerns and test results.

Contact our Beverly Hills Breast Medical Center Today

It is never too late to take control of your breast health. Contact our medical center online or call (310) 278-8590  to schedule a consultation and learn more about our breast screening procedures. 

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