Breast

Breast scans 101: breast imaging centers

Breast pain is a common complaint of many women. Statistics show that over 70% of women experience some form of pain around their breast or chest wall region.

Similarly, about 45 to 70% of breast-related health care appointments are connected to breast pain. Breast pain, also called mastalgia, typically affects nearly two-thirds of women during their reproductive years. It’s also one of the most common complaints of women aged between 15 to 40 years.

Breast pain varies from one individual to another and comes in different forms. Although breast pain is not generally a symptom of breast cancer, pain around the breast could signify a serious health risk. If you are experiencing frequent breast pain, you should have it examined by your doctor. A physical breast exam is essential to your overall breast health. Breast abnormalities, growths, or tumors have a higher level of successful treatment when caught early. A breast scan is a recommended preventive health measure to help catch any abnormalities early.

Why do I need a breast scan?

There are two types of breast pain: cyclic pain and noncyclic pain. While cyclic pain accompanies your menstrual cycle, noncyclic pain is not related to menstruation. Your doctor may recommend a breast scan if you are experiencing any of the following symptoms:

  • Swelling of the breast
  • Tenderness
  • Sharp pain
  • Lumps in the breast tissue
  • Abnormal nipple discharge
  • Breast pain can be from a variety of causes

It isn't always associated with a severe issue. However, if you are experiencing breast discomfort, it’s essential to have it evaluated by your doctor.

Common breast-related diagnosis

Some common breast-related diagnoses may include:

Mastitis 

Mastitis is a condition that affects some women who are breastfeeding. Typically the breast becomes swollen, painful, and overly sensitive to the touch. It usually only affects one breast at a time. You may also experience white or stained nipple discharge.

Breast cancer 

Breast cancer is the leading cancer cause of death in women. Early signs of breast cancer may manifest as an area of crystallized tissue or a lump in the breast. Cancerous lumps may be painless at first. However, breast pain may increase in severity as the condition progresses.

Fibrocystic breast changes

Breast changes occur in women as they age. For example, fibrocystic breast changes occur when breast tissue gets replaced by fats, resulting in cysts and other fibrous tissues.

Costochondritis

This medical condition results in pain and tenderness around the breast bone. Costochondritis is not a severe medical problem and shouldn't get you worried.

Sprains

Sprains affecting the shoulder, neck, and back may cause breast pain for some people.

Breast abscess

A breast abscess is a condition that causes a painful accumulation of pus in the breast, often caused by infection. This condition affects mostly breastfeeding women.

Medical imaging scans for breast pain

Breast pain may be caused by several conditions ranging from harmless to potentially life-threatening. A breast scan is a tool to determine if your breast pain is cause for concern.

MRI breast scan

A breast MRI, or magnetic resonance imaging scan, uses a magnetic field and radio waves to reveal detailed images of the breast. An MRI will take photos across three planes to provide your radiologist with an accurate representation of the inside of your breast.

An MRI breast scan can evaluate the extent of breast cancer. Those high at risk for developing breast cancer may also receive regular breast MRIs as part of a preventive health plan.

Breast mammography

A breast mammography scan is a diagnostic and preventive medical imaging test that utilizes a X-ray technology to examine the breasts. It can detect the presence of a lump amongst other abnormalities. A breast mammogram is recommended for those over the age of 40 as part of a regular breast health regimen. A breast mammogram will show detailed images of the breast, including areas of unusual density that may indicate the presence of cancer. Breast mammography is also able to show:

  • Breast cancers.
  • Cysts.
  • Tumors.
  • Nipple discharge.
  • Changes in breast size or shape.

Breast ultrasound

How much does a breast scan cost?

The average cost of a breast scan in the United States may range anywhere from $100 to $1500, and sometimes even higher. The price of a breast scan depends heavily on the type of scan you are receiving. It also depends on your level of insurance coverage, the location you receive your scan, your insurance copay.

Find a breast medical imaging center near me

If you have been referred to receive a breast scan or are looking to add a breast scan into your preventive health routine, scan.com’s scan search tool makes it easy to find a diagnostic imaging center near you.

Resources:

  1. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/breast-cancer/diagnosis-treatment/drc-20352475
  2. https://www.cdc.gov/cancer/breast/basic_info/screening.htm
  3. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/15469-breast-pain-mastalgia - :~:text=Is breast pain common%3F,deep down in your chest.
  4. https://www.radiologyinfo.org/en/info/breastus
  5. https://www.ucsfhealth.org/education/navigating-your-path-to-breast-care-i-am-newly-diagnosed-with-breast-cancer

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Depending on the type of scan, a breast scan may take anywhere from 15 to 45 minutes to complete, but sometimes longer.

A mammogram is a non-invasive procedure. However, to get an accurate scan, your breast will be pressed firmly, which may cause pain or discomfort.

It’s recommended that women over the age of 40 receive mammograms annually.