Which is the best test for finding Breast Cancer

Hi everyone… this subject is hot topic amongst the ladies in my commune. Which do you rate as best…

There isn’t one, except time.

Sorry Paul, I was not making myself clear. We are talking about the annual/bi-annual tests available to women… which might find the cancer early enough to enable treatment to be put in place asap.

I don’t know what the follow up schedule is in France - in the UK women typically get an annual review in clinic and annual mammogram for 5 years or until they are 50 (NICE guidance).

But there is no test to unequivocally “prove” someone does not have cancer, or is free of cancer after treatment.

PS, sorry I note you were not necessarily talking about post treatment. Screening in the UK us mammogram every 3 years from 47-70.

Self examination is also important.

Chances are the original trial(s) regarding screening would not pass muster these days.

I’ve amended the heading Paul…I want to find out how folk feel about the various tests available: mammogram, ultrasound, physical exam… blood test… etc etc…

In France every 2 years - mammogram is offered (free) to a wide range of ladies up to 70+

Various articles ramble on… but none is definitive… so us local girls are trying to find out more about what is on offer.

I have a mamograph followed by an ecographie as the photos are never very clear.

Self examination.

Mammography - “proven” benefit when backed up by further assessment (ultrasound, clinical examination, biopsy, perhaps MRI depending on circumstances). Trade off between interval that it is offered and the slight risk due to the radiation exposure. Risk of over-treating small cancers which would never become clinically relevant.

USS, MRI - not adequate on their own for screening.

Blood tests - there’s the “cancer marker” Ca 15-3 but it is useless for diagnosis or screening. It can be useful for following response to treatment for advanced cancers (i.e those which have spread).

That is interesting… some were mentioning ultrasound/doppler… most of us have had them for other things but not for BC…

My mammo is not always very clear… so now I am wondering if doppler would be just as good/better… and certainly less agony.

Mmmm…worth discussing with my Doc perhaps.

Your info is always gratefully received Paul. :relaxed:

Not for screening, however, ultrasound is an important part of following up on a self detected lump or abnormality on mammography. Doppler ultrasound is slightly different and is probably not that helpful in distinguishing malignant from benign breast masses.

The problem is that I am not the only one who is told that it is impossible to get a proper view via the machine … and this is always followed by a thorough manual examination by the doctor on-site at the time.

So some of us are wondering…mulling over the options.

If you have dense breasts mammography is not as sensitive, in which case “3D mammography” or tomosynthesis might be useful.

I don’t think it has been looked at in terms of general applicability to screening though.

Clinical examination +/- ultrasound will also be used (as you have found) to decide whether there is any need for further tests,

I must confess to not knowing the difference between ultrasound and doppler… as the locals seem to use the word “doppler” to mean everything…

Can you shed some light on this, please… ???

Normal ultrasound sends a little “ping” of sound and listens for the echo coming back so can build up a picture of what is under the probe.

Doppler ultrasound sends the little “ping” but also looks at the change in frequency when the sound wave is reflected off something which is moving - it can measure how fast blood is flowing in a blood vessel.

The idea was that some breast lumps, especially cancers, have a high number of blood vessels so show up more with a Doppler scan - it wasn’t terribly reliable but might provide slightly more info if combined with an “ordinary” ultrasound. Not sure that it is use in any NHS breast centre though. It would be used e.g. in a vascular clinic to assess flow through narrowed arteries for instance, but not breast.

Thanks Paul… I’m going to be quoting you left, right and centre, when we girls get together this weekend… :relaxed:

Paul, I’m going mad and doing 25 things at once… just taken a call from a “Peter” and so that is what I typed on here… :wink:

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We’ll be hearing from Mary in a minute… :relaxed:


Trying to get a view from your radiographer as to whether or not you have dense breasts is quite important. Plus is making sure that you have the previous screening to hand to be able to see whether anything has changed over time.

It may well be having dense breasts is why you are told that it’s hard to get a clear image from you. There are different degrees of density, and if you look at previous screening you will probably find this noted down.

I have very dense breasts, so here (thank you France) they have tended to do a mammogram plus ultrasound. They did it annually when I first arrived as no previous records to compare with. But now I’m back to biannual. The clinic I go to does seem to do this as standard for those with dense breasts. Others just have mammogram and only followed up if anything looks as if it needs to be investigated.

Self examination is important, but not in itself sufficient as some things can show few early symptoms. And if you have extra risk factors such as family history then talk to doctor about more regular screening.

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She’s off somewhere with Mungo and Midge.


You might find this page useful http://www.breastcancer.org/symptoms/testing/types