Mammogram vs. Ultrasound , A woman’s perspective

According to the American Medical Association (AMA) all women over the age of 40 should begin receiving regular annual breast cancer screenings, or mammograms. In my experience, the ultrasound mammogram is the much less painful and, quite frankly, a lot less embarrassing and humiliating method of screening for women when compared to the traditional x-ray machine method. If you have never had an x-ray mammogram of your breast, let me tell you, it is not very fun. You are escorted into a room and asked to “place your breast” on a cold, flat metal podium. Then, a technician comes over, man-handles your breast to the location and position she needs for it to be in, which is usually in some horribly uncomfortable position for you, then tells you not to move! If for some reason you move slightly, you have to start over! Once it is in position, she then places the “top” portion of the machine on your breast and begins squeezing your breast in order to capture the x-ray image. Imagine two book ends on either side of your breast being squeezed together! That is what a traditional x-ray mammogram feels like.

However, ultrasound mammograms (also known as sonograms), use sound waves to capture the images in real time. They produce a much more detailed image than the traditional torture x-ray film method and, because ultrasound imaging is captured in real time, if the technician sees something she thinks looks suspicious, she can manipulate the view while performing the mammogram, thus not requiring you, the patient, to return for a second or even third visit.

Aside from the fact ultrasound mammograms do not torture the patient, another advantage to ultrasound mammograms versus x-ray mammograms is the fact that the ultrasound method does not introduce ionizing radiation exposure to the patient like the traditional x-ray method does. As a matter of fact, for this reason the United States Food and Drug Administration actually recommend that healthcare providers consider ultrasound mammograms as a preferred method of breast cancer screening over the x-ray method.

If you are currently scheduled for your first ultrasound mammogram, try not to be too nervous. Most facilities know that you are going to be a little nervous and are prepared to make the ordeal as relaxing as possible. You are typically provided a hospital gown and placed in a private room to change. Once the technician comes into the room, it is almost exactly like an ultrasound received when you are pregnant, only this time they are looking at your breasts. Oh, and consequently, you will not receive a still picture to take home! If your breasts are dense, it may take a little longer and the technician may want to have the doctor come in to view the images with you. Otherwise, it is extremely painless and a whole lot less humiliating than the traditional breast x-rays. If your health insurance lets you choose which method you would prefer, I would definitely choose to have the ultrasound mammogram.


A mammogram is an x-ray of the breast that is performed on women (without breast symptoms) for early detection and diagnosis of breast cancer. Apart from being harmless since it is done using low radiation, a mammogram is probably the most reliable tool for screening the general public for breast cancer. It produces images of the breast tissue with the aim of showing any abnormal activity that could be cancer. Even though most people see mammograms as not perfect, until there is a better solution, mammograms remain a gold standard at present. Here are a few importance of having mammograms.

Lower rate of mastectomy (breast removal)

Detecting breast cancers early with mammograms also imply that more women treated for breast cancer will be able to keep their breasts without resorting to mastectomy.

Low breast cancer mortality

Several studies have demonstrated mammography to lower the risk of dying from breast cancer by about 30%. This is why it is recommended for women within the age bracket of 30 and 40 and those at high risk of the disease to go for a mammogram every year. The earlier it is detected, the more likely it is to be cured.

Detects suspicious lumps

Mammography remains the only test that can consistently detect suspicious breast lumps that may not be palpable during the breast examination. Such solidifications are usually the primary sign of in-situ cancers, which in 20% of all cases co-exist with undetectable persistent cancers.

Though costly, mammogram is worth it

Having a mammogram can be expensive, but you should not let the cost discourage you as the cost of not having a mammogram can be higher – both emotionally and financially.

There are currently several programs aimed to make mammogram screening available at a reduced price or even free. Therefore, there is no more excuse for any woman not to be screened or tested for breast cancer. Take that step now and grab the chance to a prolonged life. For more details, contact us here.