Ultrasound and Mammogram: What’s the Difference?

Ultrasound and Mammogram: What’s the Difference?

Mammography and ultrasound are two important procedures offered at Bergen Imaging Center in New Jersey to support the early detection of breast cancer.  

What is a mammogram? 

A mammogram is an X-ray that uses a low-dose of radiation to create an image of the breast. A newer technology called tomosynthesis – or 3D mammography – has been shown to find more small cancers than its 2D counterpart. 

Mammography is the gold standard of breast cancer screening, and there is no substitute for it. The procedure plays a critical role in the early detection of breast cancer because it can show changes in breast tissue up to two years before a patient or physician can feel them.

That said, breast ultrasound is often used as an effective supplemental screening tool.

What is a breast ultrasound?

An ultrasound is a non-invasive diagnostic test that uses sound waves to create a digital image of breast tissue. It is another procedure in the arsenal of early detection of breast cancer.

It doesn’t expose patients to radiation, and for that reason, is considered to be safe for pregnant women. Another benefit of breast ultrasound is that it can help to determine whether a breast mass is solid or fluid.  

Screening ultrasound recommendations

Screening ultrasound is recommended for women who have:

  • Dense breast tissue
  • A high-risk of developing breast cancer
  • Breast implants
  • A family history of breast cancer
  • Had a previous biopsy indicating pre-cancer or cancer

Ultrasound and mammogram for women with dense breasts

Mammogram and ultrasound are used together as a breast cancer screening tool for women with dense breasts. Dense breast tissue obscures lumps and tumors, making mammograms hard to read. A diagnostic breast ultrasound is also recommended for women with abnormal mammograms.

Together, mammography and ultrasound can provide more accurate results in the early detection of breast cancer.