Breast Cancer Blog

The principal health concern of women today is breast cancer. Why?

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X-ray Mammography & Breast Cancer Screening

HIC strongly recommends taking advantage of breast screening by mammography as offered by the UK NHS Breast Screening Programme (BSP).

X-ray mammography is the gold standard for breast cancer screening and diagnosis. In the UK a breast cancer screening programme was set up in 1987 following publication of the Forrest Report in 1986. After a positive response to an invitation, mammographic screening takes place when women reach the age of 50 years, then at 3 yearly intervals until they reach 70 years.

Diagnostic X-ray mammography is carried out on women with breast lumps or other breast symptoms. The consensus view is that the earlier a cancer is found, the more likely treatment is to be effective and lead to a cure.

Some controversy has so far surrounded the use of light, despite the fact it was an American surgeon Max Cutler who first described its use. Light does not and cannot compete with mammography in terms of sensitivity (microcalcification shows on X-rays but not with light). X-ray images relate to tissue density. However X-ray mammography is not recommended for young women. Images produced by Breast-i can show an abnormality because of additional light absorption around a cancer, the presence of blood in a blood-filled cyst or even bruising. In clinical studies in Ghana, BREAST-i has detected over 90% of cancers.

cross section of a breast tumour
Cross section view of a small cancer showing the friable vessels supplying it.
a faint breast shadow caused by angiogenesis
Important advice - do not overlook faint shadows caused by absorption of red light by new blood vessels (angiogenesis or neovascularisation).

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