According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, here are some fast facts about breast cancer.
• Each year in the United States, more than 200,000 women get breast cancer and more than 40,000 women die from the disease.
• Men also get breast cancer, but it is not very common. Less than 1 percent of breast cancers occur in men.
• Most breast cancers are found in women who are 50 years old or older, but breast cancer also affects younger women. About 10 percent of all new cases of breast cancer in the United States are found in women younger than 45 years of age.
The importance of mammograms
Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women. Mammograms help save thousands of lives each year by detecting breast cancer early, when it’s most treatable.
The American Cancer Society recently changed its guidelines and now recommends beginning them at age 45, or at 40 if the patient chooses. The ACS recommends getting them annually until age 54 — and then every two years after that.
However, at Fisher-Titus, we follow the guidelines of organizations such as the American College of Radiology, American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, and the National Comprehensive Cancer Network, which all recommend annual mammography beginning at age 40.
For women with a higher risk of breast cancer, standard guidelines don’t apply. Doctors agree that for high-risk women screenings should start at age 40 — or even earlier. Risk factors include having a family history of the breast cancer, a BRCA gene mutation and having been exposed to radiation as a child.
At the beginning of 2017, Fisher-Titus began offering 3-D Digital Mammography to area women. This new type of mammogram can detect 41 percent more invasive breast cancers and detect cancer 15 months earlier and could reduce false positive recalls by up to 40 percent, making it much less likely that you would need to be called back for nerve-racking additional imaging.
With this new technology, three-dimensional images of the breasts are obtained. That means we can then evaluate layer by layer in more detail, helping to screen for cancer, determine whether additional testing is necessary. The technology also makes it easier to examine dense breasts, which are common in women younger than 50 years old.
All of this is done using a low dose of radiation that is well within FDA guidelines. The positioning and compression of the breasts are the same as in traditional mammograms. The only difference is that multiple images are taken in the 4-second scan time.
When patients come into Fisher-Titus Medical Center for a mammogram, they will now be offered a 3D mammogram. Because the technology is fairly new, some insurance providers do not yet cover the increase in cost of the new mammogram. The test is covered by Medicare. It’s important to check with your insurance provider to determine an out-of-pocket cost, if any. Keep in mind that although there may be an additional cost to the 3D mammogram, the potential savings of not being called back for additional testing can be significant— and provides peace of mind.
Minimizing the risks
Estimates show that one in eight women will develop breast cancer in her lifetime. Better screening leads to better outcomes because, when breast cancer is found early, the five-year survival rate is almost 100 percent.
Besides making sure to have a yearly mammogram, there are simple lifestyle changes you can take to help reduce your chance of getting breast cancer. The bonus is that these changes will all work together to contribute to your general health as well.
Breast cancer statistics can be scary. The good news is that, by taking control of your health, you can make a difference. That includes taking advantage of the latest advances in screening — such as 3D mammograms — as well as exercising, maintaining a healthy weight and eating nutritiously. Contact us today by calling 419-660-2646 to schedule your 3D mammogram.
Dr. William L. Ferber is a board certified radiologist who has been on the Fisher-Titus Medical Staff since 2003. He also serves as the medical director for Fisher-Titus Imaging Services. All radiologists interpreting mammograms are board certified and trained in the 3D technology.