October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month! In honor of PINKTOBER, let’s review the facts about screening mammography…
In the 20+ years that I have taken care of patients with breast cancer, there have been tremendous improvements in breast cancer screening, surgical management, and breast cancer treatment. We are finding that many patients need LESS treatment rather than more. Some people are reluctant to undergo breast cancer screening, because they are frightened of the treatment options if they are diagnosed with breast cancer. Recent studies should help alleviate some of those fears, because we have found that patients who have less surgery do as well as, or better than, patients who have a full mastectomy. In fact, a very recent study found that there is a significant group of women with breast cancer who will not benefit from chemotherapy, which is the part of treatment that worries my patients most. So, while a diagnosis of cancer is still scary, the fear of treatment should not keep you from getting screened.
Who should get screened?
First of all, it is important to remember that screening is only for people WITHOUT any breast symptoms. If you feel a lump, have discharge, or are aware of changes in your breasts, you should talk to your physician about appropriate DIAGNOSTIC testing options. In general, most organizations recommend screening with mammography starting at age 40. If you have a close relative (like your mother or sister) who was diagnosed with breast cancer at an age younger than 50, you should start screening 10 years before their age at diagnosis. Otherwise, start screening at age 40.
2D or 3D?
There are times when patients get called back following a 2D mammogram. This can happen to women with dense breasts, women getting their first mammogram, or women with breast implants. The fear, discomfort, and inconvenience that the additional tests can cause is often frustrating.
In these cases, 3D mammography, or tomosynthesis, may be more appropriate. Unlike traditional 2D mammography, tomosynthesis takes multiple images of the breast tissue to create a 3D reconstruction of the breast. This improves visualization of the breast tissue, and makes it easier to detect abnormalities. This is especially true in dense breasts where the overlapping tissue can obscure a small mass. Additionally, 3D mammography has reduced the incidence of call backs as the images are clearer and important findings are not obscured by overlying breast tissue. Some women even find the 3D machines offer a bit less squeezing during the filming, so they experience less discomfort. Most insurance companies now cover 3D screening mammography. You should contact your health insurance provider for more information.
DaVita Medical Group’s Radiology Department at Journal Center wants you to celebrate Breast Cancer Awareness Month by getting screened! We offer both 2D and 3D mammography services, and are now scheduling same week appointments! Don’t delay…
Call today – 505-232-1500
About our Guest Blogger::
Dr. Diana Weber, Breast Surgeon, Medical Director
Dr. Weber is a Medical Director and Breast Surgeon with DaVita Medical Group. She brings a unique skillset to the team, which includes extensive experience in breast surgery. In addition, Dr. Weber has many years of experience in leadership roles. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Physiology from the University of California, and completed medical school at George Washington University School of Medicine. She is passionate about breast health and surgery, and enjoys volunteering in her free time.