Promote Your Breast Health This Breast Cancer Awareness Month

POSTED ON WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 08, 2014 AT 11:12 AM  by Dr. Marc Liebeskind

While remembering the importance of breast health is vital all year round, October’s Breast Cancer Awareness Month offers an opportunity to not only recognize the strength of both survivors and those currently battling this disease, but to promote early detection and treatment. Medical advancements and increased awareness have led to a sharp decline in breast cancer deaths. With this said, it is projected that 232,670 new cases of breast cancer will be diagnosed and 40,000 breast cancer patients will succumb to the disease in 2014[1]. Therefore, vigilantly promoting your breast health via education, annual screenings and follow up examinations provides the greatest opportunity for the early diagnosis and treatment that can save lives!

Here at Park Avenue Radiologists, P.C., we offer an array of breast imaging services in NYC including screening and diagnostic mammography, breast MRI, ultrasound, and image guided biopsies. These diagnostic tools are used to successfully find breast cancer in its earliest stages, giving our patients a wider array of more effective treatment options. Raising awareness of the importance of screening and women being diligent about their breast health has contributed to a 34% decrease in death rates from breast cancer in the US since 1990, according to a report from the American Cancer Society.

Support your breast health by speaking with your family practitioner or your OB/GYN about your risk factors, family history and the breast imaging examinations that are best suited to you. Prepare yourself for this conversation with a brief introduction to breast imaging:[2]

What is a mammogram?

 A mammogram is an x-ray exam of the breast that’s used to detect and evaluate breast changes

What’s the difference between a screening mammogram and a diagnostic mammogram?

Screening mammograms are x-ray exam of the breasts that are used for women who have no breast symptoms or signs of breast cancer (like a previous abnormal mammogram). The goal of a screening mammogram is to find breast cancer when it’s too small to be felt by a woman or her doctor. Finding breast cancers early (before they have grown and spread) greatly improves a woman’s chance for successful treatment.

A woman with a breast problem (for instance, a lump or nipple discharge) or an abnormal area found in a screening mammogram typically gets a diagnostic mammogram. It’s still an x-ray of the breast, but it’s done for a different reason than a screening mammogram.

During a diagnostic mammogram, more pictures may be taken to carefully study an area of concern. In some cases, special images known as spot views or magnification views are used to make a small area of abnormal breast tissue easier to evaluate. Other types of imaging tests such as ultrasound may also be done in addition to the mammogram, depending on the type of problem and where it is in the breast.

When are other breast imaging tests used?

While mammograms are the most useful tests for screening and finding breast cancer early, other imaging tests may be helpful in some cases.

MRI (magnetic resonance imaging)

MRI scans use magnets and radio waves instead of x-rays to produce very detailed, cross-sectional pictures of the body. The energy from the radio waves is absorbed and then released in a pattern formed by the type of body tissue and by certain diseases. A computer translates the pattern into a very detailed image of parts of the body. For breast MRI to look for cancer, a contrast liquid (called gadolinium) is injected into a vein before or during the scan to show details better.

Breast MRI is mainly used for 2 purposes:

1.       For women who have been diagnosed with breast cancer, to help measure the size of the cancer and look for any other tumors in the breast. It also can be used to look at the opposite breast, to be sure that it doesn’t contain any tumors.

2.       For certain women at high risk for breast cancer, screening MRI is recommended along with a yearly mammogram. MRI is not recommended as a screening tool by itself because it can miss some cancers that a mammogram would detect.

Ultrasound

Ultrasound, also known as sonography, uses sound waves to look inside a part of the body. A gel is put on the skin of the breast and a handheld instrument called a transducer is rubbed with gel and pressed against the skin. It emits sound waves and picks up the echoes as they bounce off body tissues. The echoes are converted by a computer into a black and white image on a computer screen. This test is painless and does not expose you to radiation.

Breast ultrasound is sometimes used to evaluate breast problems that are found during a screening or diagnostic mammogram or on physical exam. Ultrasound is useful for taking a closer look at some breast masses, and it’s the only way to tell if a mass is a cyst without putting a needle into it to take out (aspirate) fluid. Breast ultrasound may also be used to help doctors guide a biopsy needle into an area of concern in the breast.

Don’t forget to utilize the National Breast Cancer Foundation’s early detection plan to create a breast health plan that fits your busy lifestyle.

At Park Avenue Radiologists, we strive to provide our patients with unparalleled imaging services. Should your physician recommend a breast imaging exam, contact our courteous personnel at 212-888-1000, scheduling@parkavenueradiologists.com, or schedule your exam online. We welcome you to contact our knowledgeable personnel with any questions or concerns regarding your breast imaging needs at info@parkavenueradiologists.com. Stay Connected. Join our discussions with patients on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+.



[1] http://www.breastcancer.org/symptoms/understand_bc/statistics

[2] http://www.cancer.org/treatment/understandingyourdiagnosis/examsandtestdescriptions/mammogramsandotherbreastimagingprocedures/index

 

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