How Radiologists Detect Breast Cancer

By Britney Glaser - bio | email

LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - Last week, 7News followed KPLC's Mari Wilson and Kaye Billeaudeaux as they had their annual mammograms.  Now it's time to sit down with a radiologist for the screening results.

It's been less than a week since Kaye and Mari let us tag along for their annual mammograms.  With the results in, it's time to find out if there are any areas of concern from their images with Lake Charles Memorial Hospital's Director of Radiology, Dr. Richard Martinez.  "If there's an abnormality found on the initial mammogram," says Dr. Martinez, "the patient will sometimes be asked to come back for a second mammogram or a diagnostic mammogram where we obtain additional images or special views of the breast to evaluate problem areas."

First up is Mari's mammogram.  Dr. Martinez explains, "We have the previous year's mammogram on the top and the current mammogram down on the bottom. When we review the mammograms, we look at first of all, the density of the breast, secondly, we look for any abnormal architectural distortion or abnormal pattern of the breast."

By using digital mammography, Dr. Martinez is able to not only use his eyes to detect potential problem areas - he can also magnify the image and use computer-assisted detection.  "It highlights areas on the film that radiologists should pay extra attention to that may be potential problems," says Dr. Martinez.

For Mari, the mammogram is clear.  Next up is Kaye.  Much like Mari's mammogram, Kaye's images also show a couple of areas where Dr. Martinez needs to take a closer look.  He says, "This is only dense breast tissue that it's highlighting. It's also highlighting some areas of benign calcification in the breast."

After carefully scanning the images, Dr. Martinez also puts Kaye in the clear with her screening.

One important thing to note is that most abnormalities on a mammogram are not cancer and for those patients who are asked to follow-up with additional screenings, only about 20 percent turn out to be cancerous.

*Next Tuesday night on Healthcast, we'll show you the next step for patient's who do have abnormalities needing more attention. We'll explain the different available treatment options.