Appointments:  919.232.4700

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How early can a mammogram detect breast cancer?

Mammography is an excellent tool for finding breast cancer. Numerous studies show the effectiveness of mammograms in detecting cancer at its earliest stages and improving the mortality of women diagnosed with this horrible disease.

Overall, the sensitivity of mammography ranges between 80-92 percent. This means that mammograms will find approximately 85 out of 100 cancers in women who are imaged. The sensitivity increases with the age of the women, fatty content of the breast and skill of the interpreting radiologist.

Current mammography equipment can detect cancers only millimeters in size. Detecting these cancers at their earliest stages requires optimal imaging techniques, advanced equipment, and a radiologist who understands of how breast cancers can initially manifest on your mammographic exam.

On a mammogram, breast cancers can appear as:

  • Nodules
  • Calcifications
  • Distorted tissues
  • Enlarged lymph nodes
  • A simple dilated duct

It is up to the interpretive skills of the mammographer to ensure that the most subtle signs of a developing cancer are identified and appropriately addressed. At Wake Radiology, only breast imaging specialists review mammogram images. This dedicated focus ensures that we cultivate the expertise needed to recognize the nuances that present on mammogram images.

Identifying cancers when they are small leads to improved survival rates in this deadly disease. In partnership with the breast exam, mammography will continue to take a leading role in this critical endeavor.

Early detection is the best prevention. We encourage you not to wait to get your annual screening mammogram. Most of our breast imaging offices accept walk-in patients and are open late and on weekends to accommodate busy schedules. In fact, we offer 3D mammography in four locations: North Hills-Raleigh, Cary, Chapel Hill and Garner. To request an appointment, call our scheduling team at 919-232-4700 or click here to schedule your mammogram appointment.

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