In a pandemic-clouded world, it’s easy to overlook what was once routine and to pause activities that used to be regular. But when it comes to breast health, especially during October’s Breast Cancer Awareness month, passing on your annual or first-time mammogram, is not advisable.
“Delays in screening can lead to delays in diagnosis,” said Jennifer Ray, M.D., a board-certified radiologist and medical director at Southtowns Radiology. “What we don’t want is an uptick in later-stage cancers that are more complex to treat because a mammogram was postponed.”
There are many things women can do to ensure their breast health is not overlooked as 2020 comes to a close:
Talk to your provider about where to go for your imaging services. Patients can ask and advocate to be seen at a radiology office of their choice. “Often times women go to a particular imaging center because that’s where their practitioner sends them but it’s not always the most convenient option,” commented Dr. Ray. “Patients can ask to be seen at an imaging center of their choice – one that accommodates their needs and is close to home, work or school.”
Tune-up your breast health knowledge.. One in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer and it’s anticipated that over 1,400 new cases of breast cancer will be diagnosed across the eight counties of Western New York in 2020 alone (New York State Department of Health Cancer Data). Three out of four women who are diagnosed have no known risk factors, and no family history of breast cancer.
“We see too many women who say ‘Breast cancer doesn’t run in my family or I was tested and am not a BRCA/BRCA2 carrier,” remarked Dr. Ray. “In reality, those with family history make up just a small percentage of women who receive a breast cancer diagnosis. And early detection always provides the best chance for a positive outcome.”
Women who do have a family history should be especially mindful of keeping regular screening appointments and of talking with their providers about any changes in their breast. The right imaging center can detect even the smallest changes in the breast early, and being proactive about your breast health can ensure you get early and appropriate care.
Research your imaging center’s technology. In recent years, there have been regular advances in screening capabilities for breast imaging. In today’s world, patients should verify that their imaging provider uses 3D mammography as their standard. 3D mammography, also known as digital breast tomosynthesis, allows radiologists to see smaller abnormalities sooner, especially in women with dense breasts or those with fatty breast tissue.
“Studies have credited 3D mammography with detecting 41% more invasive cancers in women of all breast tissue types,” noted Dr. Ray. “When talking with your primary physician, it’s good to ask if the imaging center is using the latest technology. Patients can also ask when making an appointment.”
Southtowns Radiology is an accredited Breast Center of Excellence by the American College of Radiology (ACR), and offers 3D mammography, breast ultrasound, MRI, as well as diagnostic imaging and biopsy.
Conveniently located in Hamburg and Orchard Park NY, they offer early morning, evening, and Saturday appointments. For more information or to schedule a mammogram, call 716.649.9000.
Jennifer Kam Ray, M.D. is the Medical Director of Southtowns Radiology. She is board certified in radiology and provides additional expertise in pelvic MR, ultrasound and breast imaging.
This article appeared on 10/6/2020 in Buffalo Healthy Living Magazine Online (https://buffalohealthyliving.com/covid-and-your-breast-health).