More about breast cancer screening
We all know that regular screening does save lives. But there are simply too many screening methods to choose from. 2D mammography, 3D mammography, ultrasound imaging – you name it. Before rushing into a decision, we have to first understand their differences.
Ultrasound imaging is a procedure that produces pictures of the inside of the breasts using high-frequency sound waves. During the procedure, the clients would be asked to lie on a bed. A sonographer would then put lubricating gel and slide a probe over their breasts.
Generally, women under 40 will be recommended to do ultrasound imaging since mammography is less sensitive in women with dense breasts, i.e. women younger in age. Many women consider mammography a less desirable option because it involves the less agreeable process of fixing your breasts flat on a platform in order for the X-ray to pass through them. However, ultrasound imaging has its limitations – it can only detect substantial tumours. Mammography on the other hand is proven to be effective in detecting micro-calcification or a tumour which has not yet fully developed.
As a result, mammography helps detect breast cancer in the earliest possible time and allows for earlier treatment. Each of the two screening methods has irreplaceable benefits. The HKBCF recommends women over 40 to undertake mammography every two years; For women between 20 to 39, they should only go for mammography under recommendations of doctors. In recent years, the medical industry has developed 3D mammography, a technology that is able to take pictures of your breast tissues from multiple angles and layer-by-layer. When compared to traditional 2D mammography, 3D mammography would require a considerably lighter pressure on the breasts to obtain a clearer picture of them. Statistics even showed that the recall rate and false-positive rate of 3D mammography are respectively 36% and 15% lower than traditional 2D mammography.
According to the International Cancer Screening Network, 26 countries and places has adopted mammography in their population-wide breast screening programmes. This is why the HKBCF put forth mammography in its proposal to the Government for a local breast screening programme. Now that the technology is there for the taking, we hope that the Government can consider our recommendations and take the initiative to mitigate the threat of breast cancer to women in Hong Kong.
Original article from Hong Kong Breast Cancer Foundation