Breast Cancer Diagnosis

Digital mammography, GW Comprehensive Breast CenterThe GW Comprehensive Breast Center has a technologically-advanced imaging center for breast cancer diagnosis. Radiologists, also called breast imaging physicians, are all women dedicated exclusively to the diagnosis of breast cancer.

Unlike the majority of radiologists who interpret mammograms, radiologists at the center are dedicated exclusively to breast imaging. They are specially trained in breast imaging, and are recognized regionally, nationally, and internationally for their expertise. Their dedication exclusively to the diagnosis of breast cancer, as well as their expertise, make them uniquely qualified in the Washington DC area, as well as regionally, to interpret and detect the earliest cancers. For these reasons, many women obtain their mammograms at GW Hospital, or contact us for a second opinion for evaluation of their mammogram.

Mammography

The most widely used and recognized imaging method for the detection of breast cancer is a mammogram. This low radiation x-ray often can detect abnormalities in the breast before anything can be felt. Women who are age 40 and older are strongly advised to have a yearly mammogram. GW's Comprehensive Breast Center also offers 3-D mammography, also called tomosynthesis or digital mammography, which is particularly useful for evaluating dense breast tissue. Though mammography is a very effective method for detecting breast cancer, in certain situations, such as women with dense breast tissue and those at increased risk of breast cancer, additional imaging tests may be needed for complete evaluation. Therefore, additional tests such as ultrasound, MRI or molecular breast imaging may be recommended.

Ultrasound

Ultrasound is a technique in which sound waves are used to create an echo and the echoes are transformed into a picture that can be read on a video screen. Ultrasound can be effective in distinguishing certain abnormalities in the breast such as lumps, solid masses and cysts. Also, ultrasound can detect certain characteristics such as contour, shape and size of the breast abnormality. It can also be used to guide procedures, such as biopsy or aspiration. The George Washington Breast Imaging Center utilizes high-resolution ultrasound in all of its studies.

Molecular Breast Imaging (MBI)/Breast-Specific Gamma Imaging (BSGI)

With MBI or BSGI, a low-dose radioactive compound, called a tracer, is injected into a vein in much the same way that a blood test is performed. The tracer, which is similar to that used in bone or thyroid scans, adheres to a tumor as it absorbs more of the tracer than the surrounding breast tissue. A special camera then identifies whether there is evidence of an abnormal area. In this test, the tissue in the breast is evaluated in a physiologic approach (the way the tissue functions) compared to the anatomic approach (the way the tissue looks) of mammography and ultrasound. The GW Comprehensive Breast Center has a unique high-resolution nuclear medicine camera, which can be used to detect the earliest breast cancers. This may be most advantageous for women who have dense breasts, or for whom physical examination or mammography is difficult to interpret, such as those who have previously had breast surgery. The GW Comprehensive Breast Center is the only place in the region where this technology is available.

Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)

An MRI measures the normal electromagnetic signals that everyone has by using magnet and radio waves. Signals are then converted into exact images of the body to detect abnormalities including cancer. MRI is used as a problem-solving tool to evaluate either a lump in the breast or something found on a mammogram. MRI is also the optimal imaging technique for detecting cancer among women who have had breast implants. The decision to use MRI should be made jointly by you, your physician and the radiologist.

MRI can be used to screen women who are at an increased risk of breast cancer, and can detect additional areas of breast cancer in women who have newly diagnosed breast cancer. MRI can also be used also as a problem-solving tool if there is suspicion of an abnormality that cannot be fully evaluated by mammography and ultrasound. The staff at the GW Comprehensive Breast Center has extensive experience with breast MRI, as well as MRI guided minimally invasive breast biopsy.

The staff at the GW Comprehensive Breast Center believes that knowledge is an effective tool in optimizing a women’s experience and outcome. As a results, all women with newly diagnosed breast cancer should undergo BSGI/MBI or MRI prior to definitive breast therapy to identify all possible abnormalities in the breast.

Recommendations for Breast Cancer Screening

Rachel Brem, MD, Director of the GW Comprehensive Breast Center, recommends that women continue to have mammograms beginning at age 40, regardless of family history, to optimize their chances for early detection and treatment. Dr. Brem recommends that women follow the American Cancer Society guidelines for early cancer detection.

If you have an appointment scheduled at the GW Breast Imaging Center, please keep your appointment and take the time to discuss any concerns you have with your physician. To make an appointment for an annual mammogram, please call 202-741-3270.

American Cancer Society Guidelines for Early Cancer Detection

  • Yearly mammograms are recommended starting at age 40 and continuing for as long as a woman is in good health.
  • Clinical breast exam (CBE) should be part of a periodic health exam, about every three years for women in their 20s and 30s and every year for women age 40 and over.
  • Women should know how their breasts normally feel and promptly report any breast change to their health care providers. Breast self-exam (BSE) is an option for women starting in their 20s.
This Draft Has Sidebar Blocks
Sidebar Block 1
More
Information

If you would be interested in personally reviewing your mammogram with our breast radiologist, please call:

202-741-3003

Sidebar Block 2
Automated Whole Breast
Ultrasound (ABUS)

Automated Breast Ultrasound (ABUS) is a new approach to finding up to 30% more cancers in women who have dense breast tissue, even if that is their only additional risk factor.  ABUS is used to answer the need of detecting additional cancer in women where mammography alone may be insufficient due to their greater breast density.

Learn more >

Sidebar Block 3
Sidebar Block 4

 

The George Washington University Hospital is owned and operated by a subsidiary of Universal Health Services, Inc.(UHS), a King of Prussia, PA-based company, that is one of the largest healthcare management companies in the nation.          

The George Washington University Hospital

900 23rd St., NW
Washington, DC 20037
202-715-4000

PRIVACY POLICY / HIPAA STATEMENT / PHYSICIAN DISCLAIMER
© 2014 The George Washington University Hospital. All rights reserved.

Note:The information on this Web site is provided as general health guidelines and may not be applicable to your particular health condition. Your individual health status and any required medical treatments can only be properly addressed by a professional healthcare provider of your choice. Remember: There is no adequate substitution for a personal consultation with your physician. Neither The George Washington University Hospital , or any of their affiliates, nor any contributors shall have any liability for the content or any errors or omissions in the information provided by this Web site.            

The information, content and artwork provided by this Web site is intended for non-commercial use by the reader. The reader is permitted to make one copy of the information displayed for his/her own non-commercial use. The making of additional copies is prohibited.