Treatments & Procedures

Advanced Screening and Diagnostic Techniques for Breast Cancer

In recent years, advances in screening and diagnostic techniques for breast cancer have meant that many cancers can be diagnosed earlier. Earlier diagnosis is instrumental in the earlier onset of treatment and facilitates better therapeutic management of the disease. This can help to reduce the chances of cancer spreading and impacts overall survival rates.

Routine breast cancer screening (mammography) remains the first line of defense against breast cancer. It helps to identify cancer in otherwise healthy women, before any symptoms appear, meaning that cancer can be detected at an early stage. Advances in mammography mean that screening is now more effective than ever before. The Department of Health recommends that women should get mammogram screening every 2 years from the age of 40, or earlier if breast cancer runs in the family.

On this page, we explore some of the most advanced techniques to screen for and diagnose breast cancer, which are available at Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi’s Breast Health & Cancer Program.

Digital mammography


Mammography remains the gold standard screening technique for breast cancer. Traditional digital mammography involves taking low-dose X-ray images of the breast, which allows the radiologist to see abnormal areas or tissues. Digital mammography allows the radiologist to zoom into areas of concern and adjust the size, brightness and contrast. This provides better images and helps to detect abnormalities more easily.

A state-of-the-art screening, called tomosynthesis or 3D mammography, is now available which is a technologically advanced type of mammogram. Only available in a few centers in Abu Dhabi, this mammogram is excellent at screening for and detecting breast cancer, even in dense tissue (which can make detecting breast cancer harder).

Tomosynthesis combines multiple 2D X-ray images to create a detailed, 3D image of the breast. Tomosynthesis makes it easier to detect very small cancers, cancer in dense tissue and reduces the number of false positives. Tomosynthesis may also be used to diagnose breast cancer in patients who have symptoms such as a lump or skin changes, by ruling out cancer or determining if a biopsy is required.

Breast Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)

Breast MRI allows doctors to obtain very clear images of the breast. It uses contrast dye to highlight different tissue structures. Using magnets and radio waves, the MRI scan then captures many images of the breast giving a very detailed, cross-sectional view of the tissue. Breast MRI may be used in addition to mammography and ultrasound as a screening tool and to diagnose breast cancer.

Breast Computer-Aided Detection (CAD)

Breast CADs use a sophisticated computer to analyze mammograms that have been interpreted by a radiologist, to detect potential breast lesions. They enhance the radiologists’ findings of the same mammogram and can highlight areas that may need further investigation. Breast CADs can also differentiate between malignant (cancerous) and benign (non-cancerous) lesions.

Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) guided biopsy

MRI guided biopsy is an advanced, minimally invasive diagnostic technique. A highly trained radiologist uses a vacuum probe which is inserted through a very small incision. Guided by the MRI, this enables them to take small tissue samples from difficult to reach areas, or from areas not seen in traditional or tomosynthesis mammograms. Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi is the only facility in Abu Dhabi offering this diagnostic technique due to the vast expertise required to perform the procedure.

Genetic Testing

Genetic testing aims to identify abnormal changes (called mutations) in certain genes which are involved in the repair of your DNA. Changes in these genes increase your risk of certain cancers, like breast cancer. Knowing whether or not you have these mutations allows you to take preventative steps, such as increased screening, that can help to reduce your risk.

BRCA1 and BRCA2 are the genes that play a role in DNA repair. They are known as tumor suppressor genes because if they change or mutate, the risk of developing breast cancer increases (as well as other types of cancer). BRCA mutations are inherited and run in families. Testing requires a simple blood test.

The Breast Health & Cancer Program at Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi provides access to a full range of breast health services, all in one place. From advanced screening and diagnostics in our dedicated Breast Imaging Suite, through to breast surgery and reconstruction, breast medical oncology, and cutting-edge treatment options, we offer breast cancer care to support the most complex of cases. 

© Copyright 2023 Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi. All rights reserved.

This information is provided by Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi, part of the M42 group, and is not intended to replace the medical advice of your doctor or health care provider. Please consult your health care provider for advice about a specific medical condition.

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