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Nuclear medicine uses small amounts of radioactive material to diagnose and determine the severity of many types of cancers. Because it can pinpoint molecular activity within the body, nuclear medicine can help identify cancer in its earliest stages. Most nuclear medicine diagnostic tests are noninvasive and, with the exception of intravenous injections, are usually painless medical tests that help physicians diagnose and evaluate medical conditions. Nuclear medicine may also be used to treat cancer and other medical conditions affecting the thyroid gland, as well as treatments for other cancers and medical conditions.

Mammography is a specific type of imaging study that uses low-dose x-ray to examine breasts. Mammography plays a central part in early detection of breast cancers because it can show changes in the breast up to two years before a patient or physician can feel them. Diagnostic mammography is used to evaluate a patient with abnormal findings—such as a breast lump or lumps—that have been found by the woman or her doctor. Digital mammography examines the breast using electrical signals that are similar to those found in digital cameras. The electrical signals are used to produce images of the breast that can be seen on a computer screen or printed on special film similar to conventional mammograms.

MRI-Guided Breast Biopsy is used when MR imaging shows a breast abnormality such as a suspicious mass detected by other imaging tests, an area of distortion or an abnormal tissue change. A breast biopsy is performed to remove some cells—either surgically or through a less invasive procedure using a hollow needle—from a suspicious area in the breast. Image-guided needle biopsy is not normally used to remove the entire lesion, but most of a very small lesion may be removed in the procedure. In MRI-guided breast biopsy, magnetic resonance imaging is used to help guide the radiologist's instruments to the site of the abnormal growth.

Learn more on diagnostic testing for women