Ultrasound or mammogram: which is better?


  • Mammography
    1. The benefits of mammography
    2. Disadvantages
  • Conclusion
  • Both methods and ultrasound and mammography are standard in the diagnosis of mass lesions of the breast, and often only the woman herself decides whether mammography or ultrasound allows her to be calm for your health.

    Meanwhile, each method has its advantages and disadvantages, and to understand which method is more effective, it needs to be of diagnostic value.

    Method of ultrasound

    The method is based on the influence of ultrasonic waves. During the procedure, the doctor using the ultrasonic device to inspect the Breasts from all sides, covering different fields of view so as not to miss abnormal areas.

    Diagnosis can be performed with Doppler, which allows you to do a quality assessment of blood flow in the vessels of the examined region. The lack of blood flow can serve as an indirect sign of the pathological process breast.

    A new generation of ultrasound is elastography. This method is based on registration of elasticity revealed the tumor. A malignant tumor due to proliferation of connective tissue and infiltration lose their elasticity. The most common malignancy in the breast is hard tumor, characterized in that it is not able to change shape under the action of pressure. Benign tumors, on the contrary, malleable and easily change shape under pressure.

    Elastography is performed using special software ultrasonic equipment and allows to make a differential diagnosis between benign and malignant growth.

    Advantages of ultrasound

    • Fully painless.
    • Non-hazardous, can be performed several times a year.
    • Allows to evaluate blood flow and lymph nodes in the study area.
    • The cost is lower than that of mammography.
    • The availability of the method above: takes place in almost every medical institution.
    • Allowed for examination of pregnant and lactating women.
    • Allows you to see tissue in different projections.
    • Better than the mammogram sees soft tissue formation (cysts, mastopathy).
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    Disadvantages of ultrasound

    • Depends on the skill of the technician and resolution of the apparatus. For reliable assessment of changes in the tumor over time is better to visit the same doctor to perform the procedure.
    • In 30% of cases take a benign process for cancer (overdiagnosis).
    • The efficiency of the method decreases at high levels of adipose tissue in the breast (fat women).
    • Informativeness depends on the hormonal background of women in the time of the survey (performed on certain days of the menstrual cycle)


    Action method based on the use of x-rays, allowing to make two-dimensional picture of the breast on film or computer monitor. X-ray is considered the gold standard in the diagnosis of malignant tumors of the breast.

    The benefits of mammography

    • Shows dense changes in the breast better than an ultrasound, regardless of the content of adipose tissue.
    • The use of x-rays allows to draw a conclusion about the presence of deposits of calcium in malignant tumors and infiltrative changes and deformation of the body.
    • Detection of oncological processes up to 92%.
    • Visualization on film or a digital photo allows to evaluate the pathological process of multiple specialists, as well as to compare dynamics over time.


    • Based on the action of x-rays are unsafe for the health of patients with frequent use, is prohibited during pregnancy and breastfeeding.
    • Expensive equipment does not allow you to equip all hospitals with high quality equipment – reduced availability and efficiency of the method.
    • A two-dimensional image makes it impossible to see the breast from different angles, also, in the picture overlaying tissues on each other.
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    Currently gaining popularity is the technique of Tomosynthesis computed tomography scans of the breast. Diagnosis as with mammography is performed using the properties of x-rays, but you’ll be using layer by layer scanning of the chest, which allows you to create a three-dimensional picture of the organ and better visualization.


    Conducting a comparative analysis of methods of ultrasound and mammography, the experts come to the conclusion that both methods are necessary and important in the diagnosis of diseases of the breast, and each has its own diagnostic niche.

    The role of ultrasound in the diagnosis

    • Initial preventive method of screening young women (under 45 years).
    • An additional method to assess blood flow and lymph nodes.
    • The only method of examination of pregnant women and lactating women.
    • Women of all ages for the evaluation of non-cancer diseases (plastic surgery, trauma).

    The role of mammography

    • In women up to 45 years in identifying pathology on ultrasound to confirm and clarify the diagnosis.
    • Initial preventive method of examination of women older than 45 years.
    • In identifying the cancer process – allows you to do a verification of the diagnosis, assessment of status and monitoring of treatment effectiveness.

    Recommendations for women to monitor the health of the mammary glands:

    • On the seventh day of the menstrual cycle to do a self breast exam. Signs of possible pathological processes: changes in the skin above the surface of the breast, discharge from nipple, change the shape, the appearance of dense formations in the tissue, increase in the axillary lymph nodes, chest pain.
    • For women in menopause, it is sufficient to inspect once a month to every day.
    • If you experience suspicious symptoms should go to the doctor mammologist. If you get on reception to this doctor there is no way you can go to a gynecologist and even the district physician. The doctor after examining will choose the appropriate diagnostic method in accordance with the emerging changes.

    To consult a doctor immediately better, since all malignant diseases are complete recovery at an early stage. The result of the lost time can be spread beyond the organ, which will affect the quality of treatment and prognosis.

    • Do not neglect the recommended preventive procedures (ultrasound and mammography), even if there is no visible change when performing the breast exam. Early stage cancer usually asymptomatic.