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.
Risk Factors for Breast Cancer
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)
Are Mammograms Painful?
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 at a time of the month when your breasts will be less tender. In general, the week after a period is when breasts are less tender.
Unlike other parts of the body, the breast is composed mainly of soft tissue. When breast tissue is x-rayed, it creates an image that looks something like a smoky haze, making it difficult to see tiny “spots,” called microcalcifications, and other subtle signs of early cancer.
With digital mammography, the radiologist reviews electronic images of the breast, using special highresolution monitors. The physician can adjust the brightness, change contrast, and zoom in for close ups of specific areas of interest. Being able to manipulate images is one of the main benefits of digital technology.
Another convenience of digital mammography over film-based systems is it can greatly reduce the need for retakes due to over or under exposure. This potentially saves additional time and reduces your exposure to x-rays.
Because they are electronic, digital mammography images can be transmitted quickly across a network. Digital images can also be easily stored, copied without any loss of information, and transmitted and received in a more streamlined manner, eliminating dependence on only one set of “original” films.
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.