The Facts Concerning Breast Cancer Screenings

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Breast cancer is the most common cancer among American women after skin cancer, with more than 260,000 new cases of breast cancer diagnosed in 2018, and is the second most common cause of death due to cancer. Thanks to improved screening and treatment, more and more women are surviving each year.

What is Screening?
Screening is looking for the signs of a disease or condition before symptoms begin. The earlier cancer is caught, the better the chance the cancer can be put into remission. 
Who Should be Screened?

Women with average risk of breast cancer age 40 or older should receive yearly mammograms. Your primary care provider or gynecologist can give you a referral to an imaging center that can do the mammogram. 

Women who are at high risk of breast cancer, such as those who have a family history of breast cancer, may receive screenings starting earlier. 

Mammograms
A mammogram is an x-ray of the breast. It is a quick procedure, with appointments taking about an hour, and can be done without any special preparation.

Mammograms are used for preventative and diagnostic screenings for breast cancer. Preventative screenings are done regularly on women who have no symptoms of breast cancer, to check for breast cancer before the cancer tumor grows large enough to cause symptoms. By catching cancer earlier, it can be treated more effectively. Diagnostic screenings are for women who suspect they may have breast cancer and need an image to confirm the presence of a tumor and see the size, shape, and position of it.

Biopsies
A biopsy is done when a mammogram or other screening method finds something that might be breast cancer. During a biopsy, a doctor takes a small sample of tissue from the area that might be cancer so that tests can be done to see if it is cancer or something else. Just having a biopsy does not mean that you have cancer, but biopsy is the way that a cancer diagnosis is confirmed.

Genetic Testing
Some genes, or parts of your DNA, make it more likely that you will get breast cancer. The most common genes are BRCA1 and BRCA2, which increase the risk of breast and ovarian cancer. If you have a strong family history of breast cancer or have close relatives who have genes associated with breast cancer then you may want to be tested to see if you have them as well. Genetic testing is available at the OLBH Women’s Center.

The OLBH Women’s Center, located on the ground floor of Bellefonte Centre (1000 Ashland Drive), has combined breast health services in one location, eliminating the necessity for multiple appointments and prolonged waiting for women. The OLBH Women’s Center offers both 2-D and 3-D mammography with same-day results, breast ultrasound, minimally invasive breast biopsy, a DEXA densitometer to screen for bone density, genetic testing, clinical breast exams, a women’s health library, the OLBH Women’s Center Boutique and a breast health navigator to guide patients and families through the process.

To schedule an appointment at the OLBH Women’s Center call (606) 836-PINK (7465).