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Dr. Scot Ackerman Joins WJXT for Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Ackerman Cancer Center

October 19, 2022

In honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Dr. Scot Ackerman joined WJXT on two occasions to discuss the importance of screening and early detection in the treatment of breast cancer, and how to know which screening method is best for you.

Breast Cancer is the most common cancer found in women, except for skin cancers, with 1 in 8 women developing it in their lifetime. According to the American Cancer Society, about 287,850 new cases of invasive breast cancer will be diagnosed in women in 2022. They also estimate that there are more than 3.8 million breast cancer survivors in the US right now.

Risk factors to consider regarding breast cancer include:

  • Gender- females are much more likely to develop breast cancer
  • Age- breast cancer is most commonly diagnosed after age 55
  • Genetics- 5-10% of breast cancer cases are thought to be hereditary
    •  BRCA1 and BRCA2 are most common genetic mutations: women with these mutations have a 70% chance of diagnosis by age 80. This risk increases if more than 1 relative has been diagnosed
      • Patients with these mutations are often diagnosed at a younger age, and are also likely to have cancer in both breasts
    • Other gene mutations occur, but are not as common as BRCA1 and BRCA2
  • Personal/family history of breast cancer- having a first degree relative diagnosed doubles the risk
  • Dense breast tissue- patients with dense tissue have twice the risk of women with average density, because it can be harder to see on mammograms

There are advanced breast screening and diagnostic services that are incredibly beneficial in detecting breast cancer early. It is important to speak with your physician prior to having these exams, to see which is best for you.

  • Screening Services:
    • Self-examination- recommended to start at age 20 and can be performed at home on a monthly basis
    • Professional/clinical breast examination- performed by a physician
    • Traditional Mammography
  • Diagnostic Services:
    • Breast Ultrasound and Biopsy
    • Breast MRI
    • 2D and 3D Mammography
    • Contrast Enhanced Mammography (CEM)

Contrast Enhanced Mammography- the most advanced and precise breast imaging available

  • CEM is similar to a traditional mammogram, but delivers higher sensitivity and image clarity by utilizing a contrast-dye medium, which is a substance that is injected into the bloodstream and highlights any abnormalities in the breast tissue
  • It is a diagnostic service, which requires a physician referral, that is beneficial for patients with dense breast tissue or at a high risk of breast cancer, who may have a personal and/or family history of breast cancer, or with palpable breast lumps


Treatment Options for Breast Cancer

In addition to these screening and diagnostic services, there are also advanced treatment options to be utilized if diagnosed. These include:

  • Surgery
  • Hormonal/targeted Therapy
  • Chemotherapy
  • Radiation Therapy- Conventional Radiation Therapy and Proton Therapy


Proton Therapy for Breast Cancer

While many people are aware that Proton Therapy is used all of the time in treating brain cancers, lung cancers, head and neck cancers, etc., it is also incredibly effective in treating breast cancers. Proton Therapy is the most precise form of radiation that uses energy particles to destroy cancerous cells while protecting healthy tissue. To simply describe how it works, there is a beam of proton particles that deliver a powerful dose of radiation to the exact site of the tumor. Compared to conventional radiation which travels through the body and surrounding organs, proton particles stop at the exact tumor site and do not expose the surrounding organs.

Advantages of Proton Therapy for Breast Cancer

  • Breast- used for all stages of breast cancer, locally advanced, and node positive breast cancers
  • Spares the contralateral breast, lungs, and heart from radiation
  • Reduces risk of future heart disease, number of heart attacks, and chronic pulmonary disease, especially for left-sided breast cancer
  • On average there is very minimal radiation exposure to the heart and 50% less radiation to the lung, as compared with conventional radiation
  • Tumor can receive a higher dose of radiation, resulting in better tumor control
  • Reduced risk of cancer recurrence
  • Fewer side effects and complications
  • Brighter quality of life during and after treatment

To learn more about Breast Screening and Diagnostic Services as well as Treatment Options, at Ackerman Cancer Center, visit

To view the full segments on WJXT with Dr. Scot Ackerman, click the links below:



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