The risk of breast cancer increases sharply with age. You can increase your chances for early detection of breast cancer by adhering to “the 5 commandments” of good breast health:
- Perform a breast self-exam every month
- Have a clinical breast exam conducted by a healthcare professional every year
- If warning signs appear, such as pain, a lump you can feel, or nipple discharge, see your doctor immediately
- Talk with your doctor about ways to reduce your risk
- Set a schedule of regular, yearly mammograms. Most doctors recommend that you begin having yearly mammograms at age 40.
A mammogram is a safe, low-dose x-ray that can detect irregularities in the breast, sometimes even before you or your doctor can feel a lump. In our newly renovated mammography center, you’ll benefit from sophisticated mammography systems that improve your comfort, require less time and, most of all, enhance image quality to aid in the early detection of breast cancer.
Who Should Have a Mammogram?
The American Cancer Society recommends that all women have a baseline screening mammogram between the age of 35 and 40 and that beginning at the age of 40, women have an annual screening mammogram. In addition to annual screening for women 40 and older, women with certain risk factors should discuss an appropriate screening program with their physician.
Some of the known risk factors for breast cancer include:
- family or personal history of breast cancer
- early menstrual onset/late onset menopause
- use of oral contraceptives
- use of hormone replacement therapy
- alcohol use (2 or more drinks/day)
Preparing For Your Mammogram
If you have had mammograms in different facilities, call those facilities in advance and arrange to have your previous mammograms, reports and any other treatment reports forwarded. Do not wear deodorant, powder or cream under your arms it may interfere with the quality of your mammogram.
You will need to undress above the waist for this procedure. You will be given a wrap to wear during the mammogram. You and a breast imaging technologist will be the only ones present during the mammogram. The technologist will position each breast, one at a time, on the mammography equipment. The breast will then be compressed, and the x-ray will be taken, each x-ray will appear on the technologist’s computer screen, and she will be able to make sure each image shows the right view before positioning you for the next x-ray. The entire procedure should take about 20 minutes.
Do Mammograms Hurt?
Breast compression may cause some discomfort for a brief time during each x-ray, but it should not be painful. Breast compression helps obtain better x-rays by:
- Flattening the breast so that the maximum amount of tissue can be examined.
- Allowing a lower x-ray dose to be used, since the x-ray beams pass through a thinner amount of tissue
- Holding the breast in place to prevent blurring caused by motion.
If you have sensitive breasts, schedule your mammogram the week after a period is when breasts are less tender.
Advanced Stereotactic Capabilities
If your mammogram detects an abnormality, we can conduct a biopsy, which is where a small tissue sample is taken to determine if cancer is present. Though the majority of biopsies find no cancer, this minimally invasive procedure is the best way to be sure. Using advanced targeting and guidance technology, this procedure can be performed with pinpoint accuracy. It requires only a small incision and local anesthesia. Learn more about Stereotactic Breast Biopsy.
Brachytherapy has been shown to be a powerful method in the fight against cancer. In fact, some studies have shown brachytherapy to be as effective as whole breast radiation. Besides sparing the whole breast from treatment, brachytherapy is also more convenient than other approaches. Each day for five days, patients receive two treatments that last about 15 minutes each. And, brachytherapy can be performed as an outpatient procedure, without hospitalization.