It is important to take an active role in your breast health. Breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in women, not including skin cancers. According to the American Cancer Society, over 250,000 women in the United States and about 8,000 women in New Jersey will be diagnosed with breast cancer in 2017. Screening for breast cancer leads to early detection and when cancers are found early there are more treatment choices anda better chance that you will avoid a life-threatening risk.
Talk to your healthcare provider to learn what is advised for your personal breast health. It’s equally important to share your concerns and preferences with your medical team. The process — known as shared decision-making — involves a meeting-of-the-minds between you and your healthcare provider, where you decide together what’s best for you based on clinical evidence.
There are specific recommendations for breast health screenings that take into account age, personal history of breast cancer, history of chest-wall radiation between the ages of 10 and 30, family history of breast cancer and history of benign breast biopsies. Recommendations are different for average-risk women, increased-risk women and those who carry a gene mutation. You should discuss these recommendations with your healthcare provider to understand what is recommended specifically for you.
For average-risk women who are ages 25 to 39, the National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) recommends:
For average-risk women who are age 40 and older, the NCCN recommends:
For increased-risk women, the NCCN recommends:
For women who have a BRCA mutation —
For women who have had chest-wall radiation between the ages of 10 and 30 —
Begin a conversation with your healthcare provider to see what is recommended for you.
Understanding what has been recommended.
It can be stressful to learn that you need additional testing. We understand. Less than 10 percent of women who are called back after a screening mammogram are diagnosed with cancer. Even if a biopsy is recommended, it does not mean you have cancer.
You’ll feel reassured knowing that everything we do at AtlantiCare is designed not just for you, but around you. You’ll be a key member of the breast-health team.
Why you should consider seeing a breast surgeon.
A breast surgeon will review your health history, perform a physical examination and review your mammograms with you. Meeting with a breast surgeon can provide you with the answers you need.
You can consult a breast surgeon when:
There are several types of breast biopsies:
Image-guided core biopsy:
During a biopsy, a small piece of tissue is removed from your breast and sent to a pathologist, who examines the cells of that tissue under a microscope. It can take up to five days to receive results from a biopsy. If the results are benign, it means cancer was not found. However, even with a benign result, you may be advised to see a breast surgeon. If the results show cancer, you will be referred to a breast surgeon.