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Breast cancer screening and assessment methods

3D mammogram

A 3D mammogram is used to help detect breast cancer. It can also be used to investigate the cause of breast problems. When women experience any pain, tenderness or discomfort in the breasts, they often become concerned about having breast cancer.In fact, women’s breasts change with age and other biological factors. The vast majority of breast conditions and lumps are benign, such as breast cysts, cysts and fibroadenoma. These types of benign lumps will not turn into breast cancer. With a 3D mammogram, the doctor can diagnose breast cancer more effectively.

Below is information about 3D mammogram, the latest screening technology and our clinic’s screening offerings.

Who should get a 3D mammogram?


If you feel lumps in the breast, you should consult your doctor immediately and get screened, whether it is a benign or a malignant tumour. According to the recommendations of the American Cancer Society, the following groups of women should get screened regularly, even without experiencing any symptoms:

  • All women aged between 35 and 40 should get a 3D mammogram
  • Women aged above 40 should get a 3D mammogram once a year
  • Women who have a family history of breast cancer and who have had breast cancer previously
  • Women who started menstruating younger than age 12 and who have gone through menopause when they are older than 55
  • Women who regularly consume foods with high animal fats
  • Women who smoke, drink alcohol and infrequently exercise
  • Women who have never given birth or gave birth after age 30
  • Women who have taken birth control pills over an extended period of time and who have received hormone therapy for over 5 years

Differentiate between benign breast lumps and breast cancer


Breast pain, nipple discharge or breast lumps are common symptoms of both breast cancer and benign breast conditions. However, breast cancer and breast problems are completely different in diagnosis and treatment. If you feel abnormal changes in the breasts, you should stay calm and reach out to a doctor at your earliest convenience to get a correct diagnosis.

  1. Breast Cancer: This occurs when cells in the breast experience an abnormal growth, damaging normal tissues and invading breast tissues. Breast cancer can spread to axillary lymph nodes and also to other parts of the body such as the lungs, bones, the liver and even the brain. For more information
  2. Fibroadenoma: Most of the time, there are no symptoms associated with this condition. A biopsy can be performed for further evaluation to confirm whether the growing cell tissues are benign or not. In general, surgery is only recommended when the tumour has grown too large or keeps growing.
  3. Breast cyst: The nature of the cyst can be determined through a mammogram. A biopsy may be recommended if there is a complex cyst. As for general cysts, fine needle aspiration may be performed to get rid of the cyst. In general, surgery is only recommended for those with breast cysts who experience great pain or discomfort.
  4. Nipple discharge: This occurs mainly because the endocrine glands are stimulated. It usually happens to women who have just given birth and is caused by a high level of prolactin. In addition, nipples may secrete fluid as a result of immediate side effects of some mental health medications, blood pressure medication and birth control pills. You should see a doctor to get a diagnosis when you feel pain in the breasts or the discharge contains pus or is red and blood-stained.
  5. Breast pain: This condition can be divided into cyclical and non-cyclical. Taking painkillers should help relieve the pain. Over 50% of women reported having experienced cyclical breast pain a week before their periods due to a change in hormone levels. Non-cyclical breast pain is usually caused by wearing bras that are too tight and from over exercising.
  6. Breast hyperplasia: This describes when there are bulges or bumps in the breasts. The swelling is felt usually before the onset of period. Painkillers can help ease the discomfort and pain.

Tips on self breast examination


Most of the breast lumps are first discovered by the patients themselves. Regular self breast examination helps early detection of breast cancer. Follow the steps below to self assess your breast conditions on every second to third day after menstruation:

  1. Stand in front of a mirror – Put your hands on the hips and then raise your arms. Pay close attention to the changes in shape and size of your breasts, such as dimpling, puckering, bulging of the skin, a nipple that has changed position, an inverted nipple (pushed inward instead of sticking out) or fluids discharged from the nipples without stimulation.
  2. Feel your breasts – When you are in the shower, use a firm and smooth touch on your breasts and nearby area to feel if there are any lumps.
  3. Lie down – Use your fingers and move in circles on the sides of the breasts, armpits and the middle of the breasts. Move from the outer edge of your breasts to the nipples three to four times to feel if there are any hard lumps.

Latest technology: Hologic 3D Mammogram


3D mammograms work by using x-rays to produce images of breast tissues which are brought together to create a crystal-clear 3D reconstruction of the breast in order to detect lumps, tumours or other abnormalities. The technology has been approved by the FDA to detect breast problems and for breast cancer screening. This technology is not only able to reduce the chance of cancer cells spreading to lymph nodes but also is able to significantly reduce the death rates of breast cancer. HKIOC provides the advanced Hologic 3D mammogram that is an improved version of previous technology, offering a range of advantages as below:

01. Higher accuracy

The accuracy is improved by 40-51% as compared to traditional 2D mammogram which reduces the impact on diagnosis caused by overlapping tissue more effectively.

02. More accurate diagnosis

Detect breast lumps, abnormal structure and dense breast tissues more effectively for a clearer evaluation of the scope and the nature of breast conditions.

03. Lower chance of second assessment

Lower the chance of second assessment by 40%.

04. Improved comfort

Images undergo less compression without compromising the quality through the use C-View technology that reduces the compression on the breast during the procedure.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)


The test will first project low-dose x-ray to the breasts and produce images of them from different angles. The computer will then calculate the results and piece the 1mm images of breast tissues together to produce an integrated assessment in clarity, allowing breast cancer to be detected early. Before the test, you will be asked to remove any clothing above the waist, as well as any jewelry or other objects that might interfere with the imaging process. You will have to wear a robe that is used for x-ray assessments.

Patients should avoid putting perfumes, creams, body deodorant, oils, powder or foamed lotions on the body on the day of the test, as these products might affect the accuracy of the results.

The procedure usually takes around 20 to 30 minutes.

The radiologist will assist the patient to put her breasts in the right position, which will be held in place with two compression plates for assessment. As the patient will experience pressure on their breasts, there might be discomfort for a few seconds.

If you may be pregnant or are confirmed to be pregnant, please let your doctor or radiologist know.

Our clinic’s services


Our clinic provides a range of advanced cancer screening and assessment to help reach a correct diagnosis.

  • 3D mammogram
  • MRI
  • CT
  • PET-CT
  • PET-CT-MRI
  • Ultrasound

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