Originally, a woman would see a surgeon if she had a breast problem, such as a lump or pain.  An evaluation would take place and surgery scheduled if necessary.  During surgery part of the mass was taken out and tested by the pathologist.  If the lump was malignant the breast was removed (mastectomy) without waking the woman, otherwise a piece of the breast was taken out (lumpectomy).  These cancers when removed probably measured about three centimeters or more (slightly more than an inch), and were ultimately fatal in about 60% of women since chemotherapy had yet to be discovered.

Although experimental mammography began before 1950, it was not recommended for widespread clinical use until the early 70’s.  In 1985, Dr. Lázló Tabár did much to increase the use of screening mammography by showing a 31% decrease in mortality in women who had regular mammography.

In 1990, Dr. Steve Parker showed that by using a mammographic technique, called stereotactic biopsy it was possible to do a needle biopsy rather than a surgical procedure, to find out by sampling the tissue from a mass, whether the abnormality was definitely cancer and needed to be removed.

In the 80’s, ultrasound was shown to be useful in confirming that some masses in the breast that could be felt or that showed up on mammograms were water-filled cysts, and did not have to be surgically removed.  Around the same time, in Europe, Japan and Australia radiologists were beginning to recognize whether a mass was benign or malignant by ultrasound.  Dr. Tom Stavros in 1995 showed that ultrasound was very accurate in distinguishing between cancer and benign masses.

Also at this time an ultrasound-directed needle-biopsy technique was developed, which increased the popularity of ultrasound because it was simpler and easier on women than the mammographic technique.

This need for imaging and biopsy procedures, prior to or instead of, surgery created the need for today’s women’s imaging centers to be staffed by specialized radiologists.

With Women’s Imaging Centers now widely available, women can be assured that their mammograms, breast ultrasounds and other procedures are being performed and interpreted by highly trained professionals with extensive experience in these areas.

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