October is breast cancer awareness month and breast screening technology is the best way to lower the risk. Some breast cancer technologies are used for detection and diagnosis of symptoms of breast cancer.
Mammography is a low-dose X-ray used to examine the breast and can reveal both benign (non- cancerous) a and cancerous growths when they are too small to be detected by hand. An X-ray can penetrate solid objects and takes images of the inside of the object with doses of ionizing radiation around 0.7 mSV (a dose) to create the image. The images are recorded on film using an x-ray cassette. Then radiologist reviews the film with a “light box” looking for abnormal findings. The mammogram X-ray advantage is two-dimensional, black and white and can detect tumors or abnormal areas that are too small to be felt with hands.
Digital mammography a recent advancement in x-ray mammography uses a special detector to convert X-ray energy into a digital picture almost instantaneously. The digital mammography equipped with digital receptor and a computer shortens the examination time and improves patient comfort. The images are displayed digitally and immediately on the system monitor. For accuracy, all screening digital mammograms are double-read by a radiologist and a computer-aided detection system.
Another technology used sometimes in addition to mammography is a breast ultrasound. Breast ultrasound uses sound waves to make a picture of the tissues inside the breast. The advantage of the breast ultrasound it shows all areas of the breast including the area closest to the chest wall.
The breast ultrasound can determine if a breast lump is filled with fluid (a cyst) or it’s a solid lump. The breast ultrasound exam includes a handheld unit called a transducer that passes back and forth over the breast. A computer turns the sound waves into a picture, sonogram or ultrasound scan or a TV screen.
According to some health providers a mammogram cost ranges from $80 to $120 or more but the average amount $102. Below is a list of free or low cost mammogram services local to Los Angeles.
American Cancer Society - enter your zip code and find your local ACS office
National Cancer Institute – directs you to local resource for free mammograms, need zip code
U.S. Center for Disease Control’s National Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program (NBCCEDP) - websites allows you to click on your state to find a local heath care facility that offers free mammograms
Susan G. Korman for the Cure – Information on free or low-cost mammograms and other sources of financial assistance.
Breast Cancer Network of Strength – website has local resources, peer support and educational programs
The American Breast Cancer Foundation – has an Assistance Program for uninsured and underinsured women and men of all ages