Are There Different Types of Breast Cancer Screening?

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With October being Breast Cancer Awareness Month, individuals are more inclined to pause and reflect on the countless women who have and still are courageously fighting, against this disease.  These fighters each have a story, full of highs and lows that come with the war of cancer against humanity.  It’s only when a friend or family member has lost their battle against breast cancer that the question is asked: What could they have done differently to increase their chance at survival and victory?  A rather beneficial approach is to know the enemy, to remain one step ahead of the cancer.  The best way to do this is to annually participate in breast cancer screening. 

The Importance of Breast Cancer Screening

Breast cancer screening requires examining a woman’s breasts for cancer prior to the appearance of signs or symptoms of the disease.  Finding breast cancer in its early stages and immediately beginning the process of treatment are the most important strategies to prevent deaths from the disease.  Breast cancer that is found early, when it is small and has not spread, is easier to treat effectively.  Getting routine breast cancer screening tests is the most reliable method in finding the cancer early.

Different Types of Breast Cancer Screening

When it comes to breast cancer screening, there are various tests and exams that could prove to be advantageous.  While these screening methods may differ in procedure, they all have the same goal, aid in the treatment and defeat of breast cancer.  Common approaches used in breast cancer screening are breast self-awareness, clinical breast exams, mammograms, breast biopsies, and breast MRIs. 

Breast Self-Awareness

Just women are familiar with the face they see in the mirror every morning, they should also be familiar with their breasts.  Being familiar with the way their breast look and feel can help them recognize symptoms such as pain, lumps, or changes in size that may call for some concern.  Any concerning changes should be reported to a doctor or health care provider.  While breast self-awareness is an important health precaution to take, daily breast self-exams do not decrease the risk of dying from breast cancer.      

Clinical Breast Exam (CBE)

This breast cancer screening method is a physical exam performed by a health care provider, often during a regular medical check-up.  A trained health care provider begins by carefully feeling the breasts, underarms, and the area just below the clavicle (breastbone), for any changes or abnormalities.  The health care provider should also visually inspect the breasts from a sitting up position and physically examine them with the patient lying down.  Like the breast self-exam, the clinical breast exam does not lower the potential risk of dying from breast cancer.


Mammograms are low-dose x-rays of the breasts.  They play a significant part in early breast cancer detection and help in decreasing the number of deaths due to the disease.  The procedure for a mammogram is as follows:

  • The breasts are compressed between two firm surfaces, allowing the breast tissue to spread out.
  • An x-ray captures black-and-white images of the breasts, one from the top, and a second from the side.
  • The images are then displayed on a computer screen and examined by a doctor who searches for signs of cancer. 

Mammograms are not perfect.  Studies suggest, mammograms may miss about 13 percent of breast cancers and sometimes, a woman will need more tests to determine if something found on a mammogram is or is not cancer.  The development of 3D mammography has considerably improved the outcomes of this breast cancer screening method.

3D Mammograms

3D mammograms are fairly like the traditional 2D mammogram, though the former is far more accurate in earlier breast cancer detection than the latter.  3D mammography works by capturing various slices (images) of the breast from different angles, creating a 3D breast image.  This allows for a much clearer detail to be seen, which helps in making an accurate diagnosis.

Breast Biopsy

Breast biopsies are usually performed when further tests are needed to determine whether an abnormality is cancerous.  A breast biopsy provides the doctors with a sample of tissue, which they use to identify and diagnose abnormalities in the cells that make up breast lump, or other unusual breast changes. 

Breast MRI

Breast magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) uses magnetic fields to create an image of the breasts.  Typically, breast MRIs are used in breast cancer screening for women at higher risk than average risk.  Breast MRIs can also be used in breast cancer diagnosis and staging. Common biopsy procedures include:

  • Fine-needle aspiration
  • Ultrasound-guided core biopsy
  • Stereotactic biopsy
  • Open excisional biopsy 

Talk to Your Doctor

The team at Triangle Physicians for Women is here for you in all stages of your life and are committed to providing you with comprehensive care during these uncertain times. That includes providing necessary health screenings to our patients. For more information or to schedule an appointment to talk to your doctor about breast screenings call the office at (919) 678-6900.

I think Dr. Grana and her assistant (Mandy) are the best. I have been going to TP4W for years – at least 20, and I have never been disappointed with the level of care I have received. I can be a challenge as my level for pain tolerance is low and they put up with me! I can’t help but highly recommend the practice to anyone looking for exemplary women’s healthcare.

Love love love Dr. Grana and her crew. Love going to Holly Springs office. The girls are the best from Lisa at the front desk to all the girls in the back. Your music and atmosphere is great. Thanks for making these appointments fun!! Yes believe it or not, fun!!!

Dr V and the office staff were all very professional, understanding, caring and very efficient. I would be happy to recommend this practice to friends, family and associates. – Barbara M. Lucas

My visit was great! & my past visit have all been great.Kristy helped me even with me being a bit stressed & in a hurry because I had to be seen & my job is super strict. Her urgency to get me seen was phenomenal. I even got to see Heather, she’s awesome & amazing. She helped deliver my baby girl a year ago. My whole family loves her and Dr Sheshadri. We actually can’t wait to get pregnant again hahaha. Everyone treats you with respect and always makes sure your okay & answers whatever questions you have before you leave. Even leaving a message for the nurses,they get back to you so quickly.  This practice really makes you feel taken care of.  We appreciate you all!  – Erika Hooks

My experience with the TP4W staff has been top of the line.  They helped me through three pregnancies and coached me through every step of the way.  Eternally thankful I chose TP4W.  – Britney

TP4W have such amazing doctors, midwives and nurses.  I cannot say enough about Dr. Grana and the rest of the staff for all the help, advice, guidance and medical care they provided me with all of my kids.  She made me feel safe and calm through both c-sections.  My routine care and pregnancy care have always been top notch and I would recommend them to anyone looking for an OBGYN.  – Brooke

We were honored to receive a hand written note..

Dr. Grana, Angie, Jessica, Heather, April, Sarah and the rest of the staff –

Thank you all so much for taking such good care of me through both of my pregnancies and births, especially my latest one on 10/29! most of yall know how nervous I was from having gone through a lot (to say the least) with my first in 2016. You all made me feel so comfortable and at ease before, during and after. And going through a touch year with my dad, you guys always asked how he was doing at every appointment, which was so thoughtful and beyond your job description. I know that you all see many women go through what i did each and every day and deliver many babies and perform many c-sections. But I hope you know how special Ruby’s delivery was to me. You all have amazing jobs! I cannot thank you all enough. Merry Christmas!

Love, Lucy

I have been going to TP4W since 2010/11 and could not be happier.

The staff, nurses, midwives, and doctors are all amazing. I have 2 sons, both delivered via cesarean by Dr. V. Every visit and every provider did everything in their power to give me the birth experience I wanted, and also ensure that myself and my babies were safe and healthy. Dr. V even did everything in his power to help me avoid my first c-section and VBAC with the second, but that turned out to be out of his hands and he was the absolute best surgeon. With my two pregnancies, I experienced a few scares and some unusual circumstances that would be too long and too private to write in a review, but every single hurdle was handled with grace, honesty, and professionalism. I am so thankful for the recommendation from a friend to come to this office. I can’t imagine ever going to another practice.

TP4W is amazing and I am so very thankful I found them 9 years ago!! Amazing partnership between midwives and doctors, sweet nurses and front end staff, and relaxing environment. I literally recommend them to all my friends! I look forward to my appointments and feel like I’m going to catch up with old friends.

I’ve always had wonderful experiences at TP4W. Everyone is friendly, knowledgeable, and thorough in their care. April delivered my son and I can’t say enough wonderful things about her. She is patient and compassionate. I had the best labor and delivery experience thanks to her. I do and will continue to recommend them to my friends and family!