Who is Reading Your Mammogram?

Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital October 21, 2016

Radiology technician examens mammography test on location

When choosing a location for your mammogram, it is important to look for a center that performs a high volume of mammograms and has radiologists who are dedicated to breast imaging.

Approximately one in eight women will develop invasive breast cancer during her lifetime, according to the American Cancer Society (ACS). In recognition of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, we are publishing a three-part Breast Imaging Series throughout October. Today’s post, the second in our series, discusses the importance of specialized training in reading mammograms.

When choosing a location for your mammogram, it is important to look for a center that performs a high volume of mammograms. Preferably, the radiologists in the center should be dedicated to breast imaging. Breast imaging specialists devote their time exclusively to breast imaging, including mammography, breast MRI, and breast ultrasound.

The detection of very subtle changes in early breast cancer can be very challenging. Studies have shown that radiologists specializing in breast imaging outperform non-specialist radiologists in detecting breast cancer.  Furthermore, the more mammograms and other breast images that radiologists read, the better they become at identifying these subtle changes, with higher accuracy. Read More »

Breast Cancer Screening: Understanding the Guidelines

Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital October 4, 2016

Digital 3D mammography (digital breast tomosynthesis), the latest technology used in mammography, takes multiple images of each breast from different angles. It has been shown to improve earlier detection of breast cancers and reduce the number of call backs for repeat imaging.

Contributor: Dr. Catherine Giess is Chief of the Division of Breast Imaging at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Assistant Professor of Radiology at Harvard Medical School.

Approximately one in eight women will develop invasive breast cancer during her lifetime, according to the American Cancer Society (ACS). This post is designed to outline breast cancer screening guidelines.

“Mammography is a very important screening tool for early breast cancer detection, but there are several different guidelines for when to start and how often to undergo mammography,” says Dr. Giess.  “This can be confusing for many women.”

The American College of Radiology recommends annual screening mammography beginning at age 40.  The ACS guidelines (outlined below) emphasize screening based on a woman’s individual risk of developing breast cancer and her personal preferences.

 

When should I start?

A woman’s first mammogram serves as a baseline to compare results of subsequent mammograms.

  • Women should begin discussing breast cancer screening with their health care providers at age 40. From 40-44 years of age, women have the option to begin annual screening if they choose to do so.  All women should begin yearly mammograms by age 45.
  • Women who are at higher risk for developing breast cancer, such as women with a family history of breast or ovarian cancer, should discuss their own personal risk factors with their health care providers, and may need to start screening earlier.

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Five Things Young Women Should Know about Breast Cancer

Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital October 29, 2014

Cancer experts from Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Dana-Farber Cancer Institute (DFCI) work together to provide cancer patients the latest therapies, including access to innovative clinical trials through Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women’s Cancer Center. Today’s post originally appeared on Insight, the blog of DFCI.

While the majority of women diagnosed with breast cancer are age 55 or older, about 14,500 women age 45 and younger are diagnosed with breast cancer in the U.S. each year. Here are some facts about breast cancer all young women should know.

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Imaging Technique May Reduce Need for Follow-Up Breast Cancer Surgery

Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital October 2, 2014

The researchers' new breast imaging approach will be tested in the AMIGO suite.

Currently, up to 40 percent of patients undergoing breast-conserving surgery to treat cancer require re-operation because of a failure to remove all of the cancerous tissue during the initial operation. Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) researchers, however, have successfully tested an innovative tissue imaging approach that accurately distinguishes cancerous breast tissue from normal breast tissue and precisely defines the margins between the two – an advance that could significantly decrease the need for follow-up surgery.

The tool the researchers used for their study is called desorption electrospray ionization (DESI) mass spectrometry imaging, a technology that allows physicians and researchers to promptly evaluate human tissue. It works by electrically charging (ionizing) molecules in a tissue sample through the application of a microscopic stream of solvent. The mass of these ionized molecules is then measured and their distribution within the tissue is mapped.

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Five Myths about Breast Cancer

Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital July 23, 2014

Talk to your doctor to avoid misinformation about breast cancer.

Cancer experts from Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Dana-Farber Cancer Institute work together to provide cancer patients the latest therapies, including access to innovative clinical trials through Brigham and Women’s/Dana-Farber Cancer Center.  Today’s post originally appeared on Insight, the blog of Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.

There’s a broad range of news and information about breast cancer online. That creates wonderful opportunities to learn about prevention, treatment, cures, and recurrence. But it also means you may run into confusing misinformation and oversimplifications.

Here are some popular misconceptions:

MYTH #1

Most breast cancer is hereditary. While it’s true that a woman’s risk factor for developing breast cancer doubles if a first-degree relative has the disease, this statistic doesn’t tell the whole story.

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The Latest about Mammography: Benefits, Risks, and Choices

Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital May 8, 2014

Opinions continue to vary about when a woman should start getting a mammogram and how frequently thereafter.

A team of Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) researchers recently examined 50 years of international breast cancer screening research data to assess the benefits and risks of mammography. Their determination: the benefits of mammography are modest, and the harms are significant, making it very important that women make informed decisions about screening.

“There are benefits to mammography in decreasing the likelihood that a woman will die of breast cancer,” says report co-author Dr. Nancy Keating, a physician in the BWH Division of General Internal Medicine and Primary Care and an associate professor of Health Care Policy at Harvard Medical School. “But those benefits are not enormous.”

Those benefits also vary according to age, as well as other risk factors, such as family history. The report authors estimate that for every 10,000 women aged 40-49 who get annual mammograms for the next 10 years, approximately 190 of those women will be diagnosed with breast cancer. Of those 190, 5 will avoid death because of getting a regular mammogram, 25 will die regardless of their regular screening, and the majority (160) will survive, also regardless of regular screening. As a woman gets older, however, the benefit of routine mammography steadily increases, accounting for:

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Should You Consider a Preventive Mastectomy?

Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital October 30, 2013

Investigators found that many women opt for a preventive mastectomy despite knowing it will be unlikely to improve their chance of survival.

Young women with breast cancer often overestimate the odds that cancer will occur in their other, healthy breast, and decide to have the healthy breast surgically removed, according to a study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine. The research team, which included investigators from Dana-Farber Cancer Institute (DFCI) and Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH), found that many women opt for the procedure – known as a contralateral prophylactic mastectomy, or CPM – despite knowing it will be unlikely to improve their chance of survival.

“An increasing percentage of women treated for early-stage breast cancer are choosing to have CPM,” says the study’s lead author, Dr. Shoshana Rosenberg, of Susan F. Smith Center for Women’s Cancers at Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women’s Cancer Center. “The trend is particularly notable among younger women.”

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Reducing Repeat Surgeries after Breast Cancer

Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital January 30, 2013

Surgical oncologist Mehra Golshan, MD, (left) and members of the AMIGO team perform a practice run of a lumpectomy procedure on Nov. 15, 2012.

When Jane Davis was diagnosed with breast cancer in July 2012, she began learning as much as she could about the disease. Davis quickly discovered one of the most startling statistics about breast cancer — that up to 40 percent of women in the U.S. who undergo a lumpectomy to remove a tumor require a second surgery. That’s because surgeons often are unable to microscopically remove the entire tumor during the first surgery.

Dr. Mehra Golshan, Director of Breast Surgical Services at Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women’s Cancer Center, is trying to change that with his research using image-guided therapy, available through the Advanced Multimodality Image Guided Operating (AMIGO) suite at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, to perform more precise breast surgeries.

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Preventing Cancer’s Return

Posted by Blog Administrator May 21, 2012

Dr. Ligebel helps Sylvia develop an exercise routine

Dr. Jennifer Ligibel (right) is one of numerous researchers at Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women's Cancer Center looking at the impact of exercise and other lifestyle factors on cancer recurrence.

While certain habits are known to increase risk of developing cancer, little information has been available about the effect of lifestyle after cancer diagnosis – until recently. Mounting research is showing that diet, exercise, and other lifestyle factors can make a difference in the chances of cancer recurrence and survival after cancer develops.

“We are seeing that the choices people make can influence results,” says Dr. Jeffrey Meyerhardt, Director of Clinical Trials in the Center for Gastrointestinal Oncology at Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women’s Cancer Center.

Studies led by Dr. Meyerhardt have found that rates of colon cancer recurrence are lower in people who eat a healthy diet, exercise, and take aspirin. Conversely, a diet high in red meat, refined grains (such as white bread), and sugary desserts may increase risk of colon cancer recurrence.

Research has found that women who are physically active after breast cancer diagnosis have a 30 to 50 percent lower risk of breast cancer recurrence, breast cancer death, and overall death compared with sedentary individuals. Dr. Jennifer Ligibel, a medical oncologist and researcher in the Center for Breast Oncology at Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women’s Cancer Center, has explored processes linking cancer and exercise, as well as ways to motivate sedentary cancer survivors to begin exercising.

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