Contact: Jamie Leszczynski
In honor of national Breast Cancer Awareness Month, perhaps the most important action community members can take is to encourage the women they know to undergo a mammogram.
Oswego Health Chief Radiologist, Matthew Westpfal, MD, recommends that women undergo a yearly mammogram beginning at age 40. “Early breast cancer detection through mammography likely results in improved outcomes. A digital mammogram is one of the most important tools physicians have to diagnose breast cancer.” He further encourages women to undergo a yearly clinical breast exam that can be done by their provider.
In women at high risk for breast cancer, which includes women who have a family history, it may be best to begin having mammogram screenings even sooner. To learn at what age you should start having a mammogram, consult your physician.
Mammograms are specialized x-rays of the breast that can reveal tumors before they can be felt. Many studies have shown that early detection saves lives and increases treatment options, according to the ACS.
Digital mammography uses a computer instead of x-ray film to store breast images. It allows a doctor to look at the x-ray image from different views or magnify sections for a closer look. Digital mammography also allows doctors to view potential areas of concern in women who have dense breast tissue with greater accuracy than regular mammograms provide. Dr. Westpfal added, with today’s technology, a mammogram radiation dose is at a very low level, making it safe to undergo.
In addition to offering digital mammogram services, Oswego Hospital can perform breast Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI), adding one more diagnostic tool in the fight against breast cancer.
A breast MRI is one of the latest technologies available to assist in the detection of breast cancer. This new technology allows radiologists to see abnormalities that sometimes cannot be seen on either a mammogram or ultrasound. Specialized software assists radiologists with the interpretation of the approximately 1,200 images created during a single study.
The breast MRI takes about 20 minutes and entails the use of an intravenous contrast. A physician referral is required.
Determining your risk
According to the ACS, a woman is at high risk for breast cancer if she has:
- A known BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene mutation.
- A 1st-degree relative (mother, father, brother, sister or child) with a BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene mutation.
- A history of chest radiation therapy between ages 10 and30.
- Li-Fraumeni syndrome, Cowden syndrome, Bannayan-Riley-Ruvalcaba syndrome or a 1st-degree relative with 1 of these syndromes.
- A 20 to 25 percent or greater lifetime risk of breast cancer because of other factors (usually family history).
A woman is at moderately high risk for breast cancer if she has a 15 to 20 percent lifetime risk of breast cancer, a personal history of breast cancer or a precancerous breast condition, or breast tissue that appears dense on mammograms.
To learn more about your potential risk, consult your physician.
Oswego Health offers several convenient locations for a mammography throughout Oswego County, including in Pulaski, Fulton, and Central Square as well as the unprecedented clarity and improved visualization of 3D mammography in Oswego. To make a mammography screening appointment call 349-5540 or visit
www.oswegohealth.org/mammo for more information.