16 doctors weighed in:

I want to know what is the difference between mammogram and ultrasound when it comes to breast cancer detection?

16 doctors weighed in
Dr. Dmitry Rakita
Radiology
8 doctors agree

In brief: Xrays vs ultrasound

Mammograms are images obtained by compressing the breast and exposing the breast tissue to x rays from several directions.
Various findings on these x ray images could be a sign of cancer. Ultrasound images are obtained by sending high frequency sound waves into (breast) tissue and capturing reflected sound waves back. These are then used to generate an image. Breast cancer can often be detected.

In brief: Xrays vs ultrasound

Mammograms are images obtained by compressing the breast and exposing the breast tissue to x rays from several directions.
Various findings on these x ray images could be a sign of cancer. Ultrasound images are obtained by sending high frequency sound waves into (breast) tissue and capturing reflected sound waves back. These are then used to generate an image. Breast cancer can often be detected.
Dr. Dmitry Rakita
Dr. Dmitry Rakita
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3 comments
Dr. Thomas Foster
Sometimes mammograms can detect cancer that ultrasound cannot and sometimes ultrasound can detect cancer that mannography cannot, especially if the breasts are mammographically "dense."
Dr. Karen Vaniver
Mammograms are 90 % sensitive to pick up any irregularity, and are therefore a good screening test. Ultrasound is very specific and is used to determine that an irregularity is solid.
Dr. Andrew Turrisi
Radiation Oncology
6 doctors agree

In brief: X-ray mammograms

Rely on difference between tumor and tissue (not there in the 15% with inv lobular ca until quite large), requires compression (universally hated), and leads to u/s for biopsy direction, and sometimes mr. 3 tests: one relatively insensitive, one not reliably reproducible, 1 fraught with false positive.

In brief: X-ray mammograms

Rely on difference between tumor and tissue (not there in the 15% with inv lobular ca until quite large), requires compression (universally hated), and leads to u/s for biopsy direction, and sometimes mr. 3 tests: one relatively insensitive, one not reliably reproducible, 1 fraught with false positive.
Dr. Andrew Turrisi
Dr. Andrew Turrisi
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Dr. Barry Rosen
Surgery
3 doctors agree

In brief: "Apples and Oranges"

A mammogram is an excellent (and inexpensive) screening test, meaning that it is designed to find cancers too small to detect by palpation.
In contrast, ultrasounds are diagnostic tests, meaning they are helpful to determine whether an abnormality seen on a mammogram (or exam) is worthy of a biopsy. For example, one can only distinguish a cyst from a tumor by ultrasound.

In brief: "Apples and Oranges"

A mammogram is an excellent (and inexpensive) screening test, meaning that it is designed to find cancers too small to detect by palpation.
In contrast, ultrasounds are diagnostic tests, meaning they are helpful to determine whether an abnormality seen on a mammogram (or exam) is worthy of a biopsy. For example, one can only distinguish a cyst from a tumor by ultrasound.
Dr. Barry Rosen
Dr. Barry Rosen
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