In recognition of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, we would like to highlight the many dimensions of prevention, diagnosis, treatment and care that are so important in breast health.
Know Your Body
While the American Cancer Society no longer recommends breast self-exams as a screening tool for women with an average risk of breast cancer, it’s still important to know how your breasts look and feel. See your doctor if you notice any breast changes, such as a new lump or lesion, dimpling, bulging, redness, soreness, nipple discharge or changes in symmetry.
Maintain a Healthy Lifestyle
Maintaining a healthy weight, following a healthy diet and getting regular exercise can lower your chances of breast cancer. The American Cancer Society recommends 75 minutes of vigorous physical activity or 150 minutes of moderate physical activity per week.
A diet high in vegetables, fruit, fish, poultry and low-fat dairy is associated with a lower breast cancer risk.
Experts recommend limiting red meat (beef, pork and lamb), processed meat (bacon, lunch meat, hot dogs and sausage), high-fat dairy products, and refined sugar (check your nutrition labels – there is added sugar in many packaged foods).
If you drink alcohol, the American Cancer Society recommends limiting it to no more than one drink per day.
Get Regular Mammograms
The American Cancer Society says women with an average risk for breast cancer should begin yearly mammogram screenings at age 45. Ask your doctor when you should start mammogram screenings.
The Benefits of 3D Mammograms
Newer technologies like 3D mammography and 3D-guided breast biopsy are making breast cancer even easier to detect and diagnose in early stages. 3D mammograms are 41 percent more likely to find invasive breast cancer compared to conventional mammograms. These aggressive forms of breast cancer can grow quickly, so early detection through mammograms and biopsies is the key to good outcomes.
3D mammograms help us detect breast abnormalities like faint calcifications (small calcium deposits) and subtle lesions that may not be visible on traditional 2D mammograms. The 3D mammogram takes four views of the breast and allows the radiologist to look at the images in 1-millimeter slices.
If the radiologist sees something abnormal on the mammogram study, we may recommend the patient have a breast biopsy to determine if the lesion is benign or cancerous.
What is a Breast Biopsy?
A breast biopsy is a procedure where we insert a small needle into the breast to obtain a tissue sample. This sample is then sent to a pathology lab to determine if it is malignant or benign, and if it is cancerous, what type of cancer it is.
Faint and subtle breast abnormalities can be difficult to biopsy with traditional technology. Using 3D-guided breast biopsy technology reduces human error because we can accurately find difficult-to-spot lesions in the breast.
Benefits of 3D-Guided Breast Biopsy
While many facilities have 3D mammography, not all offer 3D-guided breast biopsy. With 3D-guided breast biopsy, not only can we pinpoint the exact location of the abnormality, we can perform the procedure more quickly and with less radiation exposure to the patient compared to a traditional breast biopsy. We are able to use less radiation because we don’t need to take as many images to get a clear picture of the lesion that needs to be biopsied.
It is likely we will see 3D-guided breast biopsy become the standard of care in the future. Currently, Pardee’s Elizabeth Reilly Breast Center is one of only two facilities in Western North Carolina to offer 3D-guided breast biopsy. For more information about breast cancer at Pardee, visit pardeehospital.org.