Risk and Screening
Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women; it is also one of the most treatable diseases when caught early. A mammogram is the most effective way to diagnose breast cancer in its early stages.
For average-risk women, the WCHN Breast Program will continue to support current recommendations for annual mammograms starting at age 40. Data used by both the American Cancer Society (ACS) and United States Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) demonstrate that the most lives are saved when women are screened annually starting at age 40. The new ACS guidelines give women at average risk the option of beginning annual screening at age 45, transitioning to biennial screening after age 55.
We encourage all women to have a discussion with their healthcare provider to review risk and benefits, as well as personal preferences, in order to create the best timeline for their screening.
We offer the latest in mammography and diagnostic procedures for all breast cancer needs:
- Digital Mammogram: A high-resolution x-ray image of the breast and breast tissue, used along with Computer Aided Mammography (CAD).
- 3-D Mammogram/tomosynthesis: For women with dense breasts, this technology allows for more accurate readings and reduced call-backs for additional imaging.
- Breast Ultrasound: Imaging of the breasts using sound waves, used in addition to mammogram to supplement screening and for diagnosis.
- Breast MRI: Imaging that uses powerful magnets to provide detailed images, used commonly in women with known high risk for breast cancer or to help further evaluate tissue in the breast after a cancer diagnosis.
- Breast Density Software: Our new computer-based program provides a more objective measurement than the historical method of radiologist estimation.
Certain factors increase your risk for breast cancer. These include:
- Family history
- Treatment with radiation to the breast or chest
- Personal history of breast cancer or noncancerous breast disease
- Long term hormone replacement therapy
- Dense breasts by mammography
- Drinking alcohol on a regular basis
We refer women with a personal or family history that suggests the possibility of an inherited cancer to the Hereditary Cancer Program (link to genetic testing main site) for further evaluation and possible testing. But only a small percentage of breast cancers involve inherited mutations that are passed from generation to generation. The majority of breast cancers are attributed to unknown mutations that occur in breast tissue.
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