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Breast Cancer Diagnosis

Imaging Reading

There are two types of breast evaluation: the screening evaluation and the diagnostic evaluation. 

Screening is for women who have no breast problems.  It is used to check for cancer in normal women. The diagnostic evaluation is for women (and men) who have a breast problem, usually a lump or abnormal nipple discharge.

For screening most women, the mammogram is the only imaging needed. The newest mammographic technology is  3D tomosynthesis.  This technology improves the detection of cancer by 40% and decreases false positives by 40%,  with no increased  radiation compared to  the standard 2D mammogram. 

Ultrasound or MRI is added to the screening mammogram  in women who are at increased risk based on their family history, presence of the breast cancer gene, or a previous high-risk biopsy.

For women with a breast problem such as lump or abnormal nipple discharge, the evaluation typically begins with the diagnostic mammogram.  Ultrasound is often used to further evaluate the problem at the same visit.  A radiologist will be there to discuss the findings directly with you.  If the findings warrant further investigation, your radiologist may recommend a  breast biopsy.

The Johns Hopkins Breast Center provides expert diagnosis for breast cancer and other breast health issues—both in the technology we use and in our interpretation of the results. Our radiologists are specialists in breast diagnosis, and having this special training and experience means the best possible care.  Having the correct diagnosis is a critical first step in providing the best treatment possible.

Learn more about diagnostic tests: