Breast Cancer Diagnosis and Screening

The earlier breast cancer is found, the greater the chance for a cure, which is why mammography and clinical breast exams are so important. We support the American Cancer Society’s recommendations:

  • Women age 40 and older should have a mammogram every year and should continue to do so for as long as they are in good health. Women in their 20s and 30s should have a clinical breast exam (CBE) as part of a periodic (regular) health exam by a health professional, preferably every 3 years. Starting at age 40, women should have a CBE by a health professional every year.
  • Breast self-exam (BSE) is an option for women starting in their 20s. Women should be told about the benefits and limitations of BSE. Women should report any breast changes to their health professional right away.
  • Women who are at high risk for breast cancer based on certain factors should get an MRI and a mammogram every year.

We offer the latest imaging equipment and minimally invasive biopsies, for a prompt and accurate diagnosis and a higher likelihood of successful treatment.

Mammography

A mammogram is a special kind of X-ray designed specifically for the breast. Mammograms allow your doctor to more closely examine the breasts for changes in breast tissue. These tests can show small lumps or abnormalities that may not be detectable by means of a clinical or self-breast exam. Mammography is the best screening tool that doctors have for finding breast cancer. 

Learn more about mammography services offered at MedStar Georgetown

Imaging

Our dedicated breast radiologists use the best imaging tools available, including:

  • Ultrasound: An ultrasound bounces sound waves off parts of your body, then converts the echoes into an image. Your doctor may use ultrasound to look at abnormalities found during a physical exam or to provide additional detail after another imaging test.
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI): An MRI is an advanced high-resolution imaging technique performed using a dedicated breast coil. The scans are especially helpful for:
    • Evaluating the tissue in both breasts in patients with a breast cancer diagnosis to make sure there are no other abnormalities
    • Screening women with a family history of breast cancer or a hereditary predisposition for the disease, such as someone who carries a mutation in the BRCA1 or BRCA2 genes
    • Monitoring your progress during or after treatment

Biopsies

When imaging detects an abnormality, the next step is a consultation with one of our breast surgeons, often followed by a breast biopsy to remove a sample of tissue and/or fluid for study. Biopsy may be performed minimally invasively with a needle or with surgery. Both are outpatient procedures, so you can go home the same day.

Whenever possible, our surgeons and radiologists take a minimally invasive approach, which offers:

  • Reduced infection risk
  • Quicker recovery
  • Less scarring
  • Faster results

Biopsies allow our team to look at the cancerous cells under a microscope, as well as determine whether they have receptors for the growth-promoting hormones estrogen (ER-positive cancer) or progesterone (PR-positive cancer).

Our doctors will review the results with you and discuss your treatment options. If needed, further studies can determine the cancer’s stage and whether it has spread (metastasized). Also, if the cancer is a type that can spread to the lymph nodes, your doctor may recommend a sentinel lymph node biopsy.

Staging

Doctors often describe breast cancer by its stage — the size of the tumor and whether it has spread to your lymph nodes or other parts of your body. The cancer’s stage also depends on whether it is:

  • Non-invasive: These cancers stay within the milk-producing glands (the lobules) or the milk ducts, such as the pre-cancer ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS). Learn more about DCIS.
  • Invasive: These cancers spread into normal, healthy tissues.

Staging helps determine the best approach to treatment, and your doctor might recommend additional imaging tests for the most accurate classification.

Make an Appointment

To schedule an appointment with a breast cancer specialist, please call our scheduling line.

855-546-0610


Meet the Team

Find a breast cancer expert at MedStar Georgetown
to meet your individual treatment needs.

3D Mammography

MedStar Georgetown is proud to offer Breast Tomosynthesis (3D Mammography) to all our patients, at no additional charge. We have upgraded all our equipment to Breast Tomosynthesis systems with the latest C-View software that reduces radiation exposure to patients.  3D Mammography helps detect cancers earlier and more effectively than traditional 2D digital mammography. Learn more

Awards & Recognitions

MedStar Georgetown University Hospital is a designated Breast Imaging Center of Excellence by the American College of Radiology (ACR).

ACR Award

Related Resources

Learn more about breast cancer care at MedStar Georgetown: