Breast Cancer Screening and Care
Who Should be Screened for Breast Cancer?
Finding this common cancer at the earliest possible stage greatly increases your chance for a complete cure. Breast cancer is often asymptomatic and undetectable on physical exams until the cancer is advanced. In many cases, cancer cells have already traveled outside the breast by the time a breast lump is felt; once those cells reach the lymphatic system or spread throughout the body, treatment is more difficult. That is why early detection of breast cancer — before symptoms arise — is essential.
Ackerman Cancer Center’s physicians conduct a personal assessment of your breast cancer risk during every exam. Beginning at age 40, all women at average risk should receive a yearly screening mammogram to check for signs of breast cancer. If you have risk factors that increase your chance of developing breast cancer during your lifetime, heightened surveillance may be necessary. Women who have a high risk for breast cancer benefit from screening mammography every year beginning at age 30. Yearly supplemental screening breast MRI is another important tool for early detection of breast cancer in high-risk women.
Genetic testing can further define individual risk for patients with a significant personal or family history of cancer.
What is a Screening Mammogram?
Breast cancer is common, affecting one in eight women. An estimated 85% of breast cancers occur in women who have no family history of breast cancer. Finding breast cancer at the earliest possible stage greatly increases your chances for a complete cure.
Breast cancer is often asymptomatic and undetectable on a physical exam until the cancer is advanced. Screening mammography is an essential test to detect breast cancer before symptoms arise. Breast cancer deaths decrease by 40% in women who receive a yearly screening mammogram, compared to women who do not. We recommend that all women at average lifetime risk for breast cancer to receive a yearly screening mammogram, beginning at age 40. Women with high lifetime risk for breast cancer benefit from yearly screening mammograms beginning at age 30.
Digital Mammogram – The gold standard, first-choice test for early breast cancer detection is the digital mammogram. This exam takes images of both breasts from different angles.
3D Digital Mammogram – Digital Breast Tomosynthesis
3D mammography is a powerful technique that improves the capabilities of the traditional digital mammogram for the detection of early breast cancer. 3D mammograms are performed with the classic 2D mammogram procedure; the 2D and 3D mammograms feel identical, except that during the 3D mammogram, the machine moves in a shallow arc. The 3D mammogram provides images of the breasts in slices as thin as 1 mm. Our radiation oncologists use these thin-slice pictures to examine the breast tissues layer by layer.
3D mammography has been shown to improve detection of invasive cancers when used in conjunction with standard mammography. A 3D mammogram can also clarify areas in question on the traditional mammogram, decreasing the chances that you will be recalled from your screening mammogram for a diagnostic breast imaging exam.