Facts Every Woman Should Know About Breast Cancer

Each year about 240,000 new cases of breast cancer are diagnosed (one every 2.5 minutes). Sadly, 40,000 women die from breast cancer each year (one death every 13 minutes).  Screening tests such as mammograms are the first weapon against breast cancer. Mammograms are all about early cancer detection. The earlier you catch the cancer, the earlier the patient can be treated and the more likely there will be a successful outcome. Providing our patients with the latest technology is the best thing we can do for them.

Q) How effective is mammography screening?
A) Mammography screening reduces breast cancer mortality by 25-30% for women ages 50-70 and 18% for women ages 40-50. Early detection is incredibly important. The smaller the cancer is when it is discovered, the less chance of it spreading and the higher chance of complete resection and cure. The 12-year survival rate is 95% for cancers detected that are less than 1 centimeter in size.

Q) What are the screening guidelines?
A) Women should have a yearly screening mammogram beginning at age 40. Women should perform a breast self-examination each month.

Q) If I have a family history of breast cancer, does that mean I’ll develop breast cancer? 
A) A woman’s risk of breast cancer approximately doubles if she has a first-degree relative (mother, sister, daughter) that has been diagnosed with breast cancer. Although there is an increased risk, the disease is not necessarily inherited. In fact about 5-10% of breast cancers are caused by inherited gene mutations (abnormal changes passed through families).

Q) If the technology is so good for detecting breast cancer, why do I have to perform breast self-exams?
A) Breast self-exams are extremely important! Approximately 5% of breast cancer cannot be visualized on imaging and are only detectable with physical exam.

Q) Why is bringing my prior mammograms important? 
A) Sometimes it is difficult to tell the difference between dense breast tissue and cancer. Subtle changes in the mammogram from one year to the next maybe the only way to detect a newly forming cancer. Prior mammograms are invaluable to a radiologist to determine what is stable, benign breast tissue and what is cancer.

Q) Is there a difference between digital and analog mammography?
A) Instead of using traditional x-ray films, digital mammography uses a computerized detector to create a picture of the breast. With the improvements in technology, digital mammography is considered superior in breast cancer detection. An added bonus of digital mammography is overall reduced radiation exposure. I have been told the digital mammogram unit is much more comfortable than the analog units. Digital imaging is faster, greatly reducing the overall examination time.

Our Hologic System is the latest, most advanced on the market which is definitely a benefit to our patients. By combining advanced technologies with a caring experienced staff, a beautiful facility and an excellent group of radiologists, we’ve managed to offer women a better overall experience.