The average risk of women in the United States developing breast cancer in her lifetime is 13%. Though rates of breast cancer have risen over the years, death rates have declined thanks to screenings and early detection.
Early Detection Saves Lives
The COVID pandemic led to a disruption in routine cancer screenings, and unfortunately many people have continued to put off rescheduling them. This led to an increase in cancers being diagnosed at an advanced or late stage, making them difficult to treat. It’s more important than ever to schedule your routine mammogram.
Breast cancer that is detected at an early stage has a 90% survival rate in the first five years following treatment. Mammograms are the most effective way to screen for breast cancer, which is why the American Cancer Society recommends women begin having routine mammograms at the age of 40.
3D Mammography vs. 2D Mammography: What’s the difference?
A mammogram is a low-dose x-ray of the breast. A 2D mammogram takes an image from the top and side of the breast, whereas a 3D mammogram takes multiple images from different angles. 3D mammogram imaging is especially useful in detecting cancer in women who have dense breasts.
Dense breasts have more breast tissue than fatty tissue. Because breast tissue and cancer both show up in white on traditional mammograms, it can be difficult for radiologists to differentiate between the two. They will then order further testing to decide if what they see is a tumor, or just dense breast tissue.
3D mammograms decrease the need for further imaging, and reduces the financial costs and anxiety of being called back for more testing. Though 3D mammograms are becoming more common, they are not available everywhere.
Catholic Health is proud to offer 3D mammography at three of our facilities, including: Mercy Comprehensive Care Center, the Piver Center for Women’s Health & Wellness, and the Center for Women at Mount St. Mary’s Hospital.
What Causes Dense Breasts? Am I More at Risk of Developing Cancer?
Women with dense breast tissue are more at risk of developing breast cancer. Nearly half of women over the age of 40 have high breast density, but that does not mean they are more at risk of dying from breast cancer. Breast density cannot be determined by size or feel alone, it can only be determined through mammograms.
By law, New York State requires healthcare providers inform all women who have had a mammogram if they have dense breasts. This helps inform women who may be at risk of developing breast cancer so that they can choose to schedule further testing and improve their chances of early cancer detection. In addition, women with health insurances covered by this law are protected from paying any additional fees or out-of-pocket expenses for additional imaging.
Not all health plans offer this, so it is important to check with your insurance provider to ensure coverage. To learn more about NYS breast cancer legislation, click here.
Breast density is believed to be hereditary, while having a lower body mass index (meaning having less body fat), and being premenopausal are also believed to be contributing factors to density. Because of these factors, breast density is not something we can control. Lowering your chances of developing breast cancer starts with getting regular screenings and physical exams, maintaining a healthy weight, and eating a nutritious diet.
Don’t Put off Your Mammogram
Getting your routine mammogram can be your best chance at early detection and preventing breast cancer. Early detection saves lives, to learn more about 3D mammography at Catholic Health, or to schedule an appointment with one of our providers, call (716) 923-7152.