Shields Health Care Group Blog

Is it 40 or 50? Clearing up the Confusion about Mammography Age Recommendations.

Posted by Lisa Campisi

Early detection remains the best way to improve survival rates of breast cancer. Millions of women know the importance of and participate in regularly scheduled screening mammograms, but there has been varied recommendations in the news around the age guidelines for screening mammograms. Below is some important information about screening guidelines about why you should have your first annual screening mammogram starting at age 40.

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Tags: mammography, mammogram, breast MRI, lowell general hospital

Self-refer and self-pay for a breast MRI scan? Yes, you can... and right on Cape Cod.

Posted by Lisa Campisi

The wave of the future in breast cancer screening is now available only on Cape Cod.

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Tags: breast cancer, mammography, mammogram, breast MRI, Breast screening,

Christina Applegate's breast cancer diagnosis came from an MRI: Why hasn't my doctor recommended one?

Posted by Lisa Campisi

image source: google

Christina Applegate was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 36 after a breast MRI and has been an advocate for the benefits of screening ever since. In particular, she has been very public about her feelings on the need for easier accessibility of advanced breast screening, such as MRI. 

So if breast MRI is beneficial to the diagnosis of breast cancer, you may be wondering WHY your doctor has not recommended one. 

Breast MRI is requested by your physician most often in cases where there is an abnormal mammogram or a history of breast cancer in a ‘first-degree’ relative (parent, sibling or child), or a genetic predisposition to breast cancer. It may also be helpful to screen women who have implants or scar tissue that makes reading the mammogram difficult, or to determine if an implant has ruptured. Breast MRI is also meaningful to distinguish between recurrent tumors from radiation or surgical scar tissue. Breast MRI is most important for women diagnosed with breast cancer to determine the extent of the tumor and to assess the possibility of multiple tumors in the same or opposite breast. 

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Tags: breast cancer, breast MRI, Breast screening,

Three questions to ask your doctor when he says "MRI."

Posted by Lisa Campisi

Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) can be a very helpful tool at diagnosing many problems ranging from orthopedic to neurological to breast. However, as a patient, you want to be sure that the MRI is necessary and helpful to your situation. The opposite may also be true; your doctor may not order an MRI and you feel they should. As patients become more responsible for their health care, asking your doctor these three questions can help make you feel comfortable with the recommendations made for your care.

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Tags: breast MRI, claustrophobia, back mri, 1.5T

Breast Screening Guidelines for Women including Breast MRI

Posted by Carmel Shields

 
 

Type of Test

Who should have it

How often

Self Breast Exam

Self exams are performed to detect changes that could lead to breast cancer. These exams help you to learn what is normal for your breast tissue. Most of the time breast changes are not cancer; however, you should speak with your physician regarding any changes.

All women beginning by the age of 20. This includes women who are pregnant, breast-feeding, have breast implants or have gone through menopause.

Monthly

It's best to check about a week after your period, when breasts are not swollen or tender, If you no longer have a period, examine your breasts on the same day every month.  If you forget to examine yourself, just do it when you remember.

Clinical Breast Exam

Your physician examines your breasts.  Physicians are trained to look for subtle signs and changes.  Up to 25% of breast lumps are discovered on physical exam.

All women should have this exam as part of their routine exam.

Women in their 20's and 30's should have a breast exam once every three years.  Starting at the age of 40, women should have one every year.

Mammogram

An x-ray of the breast, using a special low radiation camera. The image is printed on film.

Generally, all women starting at age 40; women who are at high risk may need to start earlier. For patients who have breast implants, speak with your physician regarding screening recommendations.

For women at low to average risk once a year. High risk women may need to have them more often based on their physician's recommendations.

Digital Mammogram

An x-ray of your breast, using a special low radiation camera.  Rather than the standard film, an electronic image is seen on a computer.  The computer screen can be adjusted for better clarity and view of your breast.

Digital mammograms tend to be higher in contrast. They are more effective for women who have dense breast tissue. Digital mammography is slightly more sensitive than film-screen mammography.

For women at low to average risk once a year. High risk women may need to have them more often based on their physician's recommendations.

Ultrasound

Uses high frequency sound waves that are transmitted through breast tissue from a hand-held unit called a transducer. These sound waves bounce off breast tissues. The "echoes" created as a result is then recorded by a computer that makes an image of the breast tissue; displays on computer screen.   

An ultrasound test may be used to take a closer look at areas of your breast that your physician still has questions after clinical breast exam and mammogram.  Ultrasound may also be needed to clarify findings seen on your mammogram or on you breast MRI.

Recommended by your physician or by your radiologist.

Type of TEST

WHO SHOULD HAVE IT

HOW OFTEN

 

Genetic Testing

A blood test to analyze the DNA for genetic mutation. A gene mutation is a permanent change in the DNA sequence that makes up the gene.

 

Women with two or more close family members who have had breast cancer (parents, siblings or children), or those that meet specific guidelines determined by their physician.

 

Only once.  Recommended by your physician.

MRI

Magnetic Resonance Imaging uses a magnetic field and pulses of radio wave energy to image organs and structures inside the body.  MRI may show problems that cannot be seen with other imaging methods. More info: www.shields.com

Women at high risk, especially those positive for the breast cancer gene; women with first degree relatives who are positive for the breast cancer gene.

Women diagnosed with breast cancer should have an MRI to search for other cancers in the same breast or in the other breast.

Once a year, along with a mammogram; often based on their physician's recommendations.

PET/CT

PET CT scanning is an entire body scan.  PET CT is used to determine if disease has moved beyond the breast area.

Women who have a diagnosis of breast cancer with positive axillary nodes.

Recommended by your physician

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Tags: mammo, MRI, cancer, breast MRI, PET/CT