Quad Cities, IL/IA

Working with the community... for a healthier community.

Mammography — Time to Get Back to Basics


By KD Flick, Physician Liaison, Genesis Imaging Centers

No doubt, you’ve heard it said (or maybe said it yourself), “I can’t fit a mammogram into my schedule,” or, “My doctor retired and I haven’t found a replacement.” While there is no argument that the never-ending demands and obligations competing for our time and attention are stressful, they will never be as stressful as breast cancer.

The truth is, many of us need to get back to basics where our breast health is concerned. Although there has been a decline in the rate of deaths from breast cancer in recent years, it is still the second leading cause of cancer death in women, exceeded only by lung cancer. According to the American College of Surgeons (ACoS), studies have shown that when detected early, the chance for successful treatment of breast cancer is nearly 100 percent. In November of 2009, ACoS released comments in a news release strongly supporting the American Cancer Society’s (ACS) screening mammography guidelines recommending that women age 40 and over get an annual mammogram. The ACoS and ACS support annual screening guidelines, despite the recommendation from the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF), which recommended screening every two years beginning at age 50 instead of 40, and ending screening at age 74.

To that end, the lives of our sisters, mothers, and grandmothers are invaluable. According to Cancer.org, “Mammography has long been recognized as the gold standard for the early detection of breast cancer.” The ACoS and ACS believe the most effective approach for maintaining breast health is for women to consult with their physician or health care provider, and to practice the following three Basic Steps for Early Detection of breast cancer:

Practice monthly breast self exams (BSE) beginning at age 20.
When you are familiar with the look and feel of your breasts, you will begin to learn what is “normal,” so you can identify a change. “Don’t be afraid to discuss breast changes with your physician,” advises Christine Walsh, MD, radiologist, and breast specialist. “Many times there are lumps and bumps that are non-cancerous and ‘normal.’ Cysts and fibrocystic breast changes are found in women of all ages. However, women with a family history of breast cancer, or other concerns about their personal risk, should definitely see their healthcare provider. Then, individual risk can be assessed and a conversation started about when to begin mammography screening.”

Have an annual clinical breast exam (CBE) as part of a regular health exam by a healthcare professional beginning at age 20.
Combining your annual clinical exam with regular monthly breast self-exams is the optimal personalized approach to knowing your body and aiding in early detection and successful treatment. A breast cancer that has been discovered because it is large enough to be felt may have already spread outside the breast tissue and to other parts of the body.

Have an annual screening mammogram beginning at age 40 and continue for as long as you are in good health.

A physical breast exam without a mammogram would miss the opportunity to detect many breast cancers that are too small for a woman or her doctor to feel, but can be seen on mammograms. Mammograms offer substantial benefit for women in their 40’s. In most cases, mammography can identify an abnormality as much as two years before it can be detected by touch. A new breast cancer detection technology called 3D Mammography is the latest tool to be added to the cancer arsenal. 3D Mammography detects up to 41 percent more invasive breast cancers. It also reduces the chance that a woman will be called back for additional views by up to 40 percent. (See next month’s article for more).

No Doctor’s Order? No Problem
At Genesis Imaging Centers, scheduling a mammogram without a doctor’s order is fast, easy, and convenient. Call 563-421-XRAY (9729) and the Imaging Center will automatically send the results to your physician. With greater access to health information than ever before, it has become less difficult to take a more effective role in preventive self-care; taking an active role in your breast health offers the best chance of surviving breast cancer. Located at 1970 E. 53rd St., Davenport and 2140 53rd Ave. Bettendorf.

Sources Available Upon Request.

Photo credits: choja/iStock, PicturePartners/iStock