I’ve received several inquiries from women living in various regions of the country, asking how they should choose where to go for their mammogram, and if it really matters. I cannot emphasize this enough: It matters! Here are a few tips to help your search:
- The most basic requirement is whether a facility is accredited under the MQSA (Mammography Quality Standards Act). The accrediting body for most states is the ACR (American College of Radiology), which has a list of requirements and tests that facilities must comply with in order for the centers
In November I traveled to DC to issue a statement to the FDA advisory committee regarding breast density. Several radiologists, breast cancer patients and advocates, representatives from the American College of Radiology, as well as Karen Handel from the Susan G. Komen foundation were on hand to render opinions regarding a new rule being considered by the FDA, which would mandate the inclusion of breast density information in the official mammogram report that goes to the referring doctor, and that the radiology facility providing a mammogram…Read More
In 2003, my mom friend Sharon was relishing her role as a new mother in her early 40’s. She’d given birth to her daughter in 2001, and was now busy chasing after an adorable toddler, navigating naptimes, bottles and diapers, while working in the banking industry in Manhattan. Her husband and their brother-in-law had renovated and opened a beautiful new restaurant, and life was very exciting.
The Symptom Leading to Diagnosis
Sharon had gone for yearly mammograms since turning 40, and the test had always been reported as normal. She had no family history …Read More
Looking at her today, you’d never guess that my mom friend Lori Kennedy had been through the gauntlet of breast cancer diagnosis and treatment at the age of 29. A mutual friend introduced us several years ago, and after Lori learned that my field is breast imaging, she mentioned that she’d had breast cancer years before. I was intrigued by her story, and thought it would be helpful to share in “The Breast Diaries.”
The Shock of Diagnosis
In April of 1992 Lori was 29 years old, living the single life in Hoboken and working successfully in sales. She had been…Read More
Breast Cancer Awareness Month ends on Monday. Of course awareness is important, but knowing what specific actions you can take to protect yourself against the disease is empowering. Breast cancer can strike anyone, with or without risk factors. However, there are several things you can do NOW to lessen the likelihood of advanced breast cancer happening to you.
1. Lace up and take a walk! According to the Women’s Health Initiative study, women who walked just 30 minutes per day at least 5 days a week (exercise pace, not a leisurely stroll) decreased their…Read More
Nancy Cappello, PhD and JoAnn Pushkin were interviewed on Good Morning America last week, talking about their experiences as women doing “everything right”: mammograms every year, healthy lifestyle, annual checkups. Yet even though they were good, compliant patients, they both were diagnosed with advanced breast cancers. How did this happen? Well, they were never informed that they have dense breast tissue, which confers an increased risk for breast cancer, AND makes a mammogram so hard to read that up to half of cancers won’t be seen.
Since they were …Read More
In 2009, the year after she was diagnosed with breast cancer at age 36 after a screening Breast MRI test, actress Christina Applegate founded Right Action for Women (www.rightactionforwomen.org), a foundation dedicated to educating women about what it means to be at “high risk” for breast cancer.
In addition to education, the foundation offers financial assistance for women 45 years old and younger, with a family history of breast cancer or with a positive BRCA gene test, to gain access to Breast MRI, regardless of insurance status. Insurance companies often…Read More
For most women, age 40 should be when you start having yearly mammograms in order to minimize your likelihood of developing advanced breast cancer (“Government Mammography Task Force vs. You”). Some doctors send their patients for a baseline mammogram at age 35, and I wouldn’t argue with that.
If you have a strong family history of breast cancer (mother or sister), start having your mammogram 10 years younger than the age that relative was diagnosed, OR at age 40, whichever is younger. For example, if your sister had …Read More
This 49-year-old woman had cancer in her left breast a few years ago, and was treated with a left lumpectomy and radiation therapy. Worried that the cancer would come back and be found too late in her dense breasts, she’d heard about breast MRI in her survivors’ support group, and decided to ask her doctor to send her for one. Her doctor agreed, and gave her a prescription for the test. But her insurance company didn’t approve it, even though her doctor ordered it.
The insurance clerk she spoke with after she was notified of the denial told her she didn’t need to …Read More
If any of the following risk factors apply to you, you might be at high risk. Talk to your doctor:
- Do you have a family history of breast cancer (both your mother and your father’s sides count!)? The highest risk is if you have a mother, sister, daughter, father, brother or son with breast cancer. But other relatives– grandparents, aunts, cousins– are important to consider as well.
- Have you had breast cancer yourself in the past? If so, you have 10x the risk of the average woman for developing a new cancer.
- Do you have dense breasts? (“What