Ultrasound vs mammography?

Discussion in 'The Watercooler' started by scent of cedar, Mar 3, 2008.

  1. scent of cedar

    scent of cedar New Member

    Can anyone tell me whether an ultrasound is superior to mammography in screening for breast cancer?

    It makes perfect sense to me that the ultrasound would provide better results (and I hate mammograms). My physician says first the mammogram and then, if required, the ultrasound.

    I am going to request that we go straight to the ultrasound.

    Does anyone know why mammograms are done if ultrasound examination is more sensitive?

  2. meowbunny

    meowbunny New Member

    I believe it's a cost issue. I always have to have both. When I had medical insurance, there is no way my insurer would have approved the ultrasound before the mammogram even though there was no question I would be getting both due to cysts and fibroids. Now, I just go for the ultrasound since I'm paying for it out of pocket.

    I believe another factor is that a mammogram can "see" more area at a time so it can spot a calcium deposit forming whereas an ultrasound might miss it.

    A mammogram really is a pre-screening. The doctor doesn't need to be present. Just a quick review of the developed film usually does the trick. For an ultrasound, the doctor needs to be there as well as an assistant.

    Good luck on convincing a doctor to do the ultrasound without the mammogram first.
  3. hearts and roses

    hearts and roses Mind Reader

    Ditto everything that MB said. I usually have to have the ultrasound following the mammogram also. I have been told I have very dense breast tissue so they need a more thorough look-see. Also, my lymph nodes are always swollen under my arms. I guess that's a concern.

    Are you feeling that the mammo may not see everything? Or is it a comfort thing? I hate mammos also - I have tiny breasts and they just plain old hurt.
  4. LittleDudesMom

    LittleDudesMom Well-Known Member Staff Member

    MB is correct. The ultrasound is more expensive and only covered by insurance if your doctor orders it after your annual mammogram. An ultrasound is usually warranted if you have dense breast tissue or something is worth a "closer look" after the mammogram.

  5. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    My ultrasound was able to tell the diff between calcium deposits and cysts. But it was only taken after the mammogram because the mammogram already showed calcium deposits.
    I agree, it's harder to see anything with-dense breast tissue. I didn't have my first mammo until I was 47 for that reason!
    The mammos can be enlarged on a computer screen and the radiologist can actually see a lot.
    Good luck.
  6. mstang67chic

    mstang67chic Going Green

    As it was explained to me recently, the ultrasound is only done following a mammogram if they need to look more at an area. I had my first mammo a few weeks ago and they wanted a repeat because of a lot of dense tissue. Of course the second one is with a lot more pressure in an attempt to "break up the dense area". (Had to wonder...just how much do they plan on breaking up this tissue???? Do I need to worry about anything oozing out???) I asked about skipping the second mammo and going straight to the ultrasound but they don't do it that way. If you find a way to convice them, let me know!
  7. meowbunny

    meowbunny New Member

    I get them to skip the mammo by showing them my previous ones for the past 10 years (and I have to get one every 3 months) and reminding them that I have to get an ultrasound each and every time, so let's not waste the time nor the expense. As I said, when I had insurance, there was no choice -- mammotorture then ultrakindness. Now, I can usually bully/whine my way into just getting the ultrasound.
  8. flutterbee

    flutterbee Guest

    How much do you want to bet if it involved squeezing a man's testicles in a mammogram-type machine, the insurance would pay for ultrasound?

    Just sayin'....
  9. witzend

    witzend Well-Known Member

    Oh, yeah. Let's "break up" those dense tissues.

    I find that "No" often works wonders.

    You have to wonder how it is that they think antagonism is going to make you want to go do it in the first place, let alone twice.
  10. mstang67chic

    mstang67chic Going Green

    If men had to get some sort of screening like this, the whole process would have NEVER involved squeezing to begin with. Granted they do have to do the whole Prostate thing but it still doesn't compare.
  11. witzend

    witzend Well-Known Member

    Think about an annual pelvic exam. We've been getting the what amounts to a prostate exam tripled since we were 18. It doesn't compare at all.