Mammograms save lives. Most women should start getting mammograms at age 40, and then every year after that.
Women who are younger than 40 but have a family history of breast cancer should start getting mammograms even earlier – 10 years before the age the youngest family member was when they were diagnosed. For example, if your mother was diagnosed at 40, you should start getting your mammograms at 30.
Additionally, there’s no routine ways to detect, treat and cure cancer, so it’s important where to get a mammogram. Patients should entrust their screenings to experts who read and interpret mammograms (and only mammograms) every single day, specifically to diagnose breast cancer or to make sure there’s nothing to be found on a mammogram.
Other ways to help prevent breast cancer include:
- Food: Eating sensibly is important. This includes decreasing processed foods and sugar, getting the appropriate proteins, good fats, fruits, vegetables and grains.
- Fitness: Regular exercise can make a big difference. Walk, cycle, swim, play tennis – finding something you enjoy and making it a consistent part of everyday life can really impact risk factors.
- Fight weight gain: Weight gain is directly related to health and mortality.
- Flee stress: numerous studies show that stress is a very real threat to health, negatively impacting our bodies not just emotionally but also physically as well.
- Find it early: In addition to getting annual mammograms, regular self-exams are equally important
- Don’t smoke: If you need help with quitting smoking, call the James Line at 800-293-5066 or 614-293-5066 for more information, or go to www.tobaccofree.osu.edu
Breast Cancer Screening
One of the best ways to detect breast cancer at the earliest possible point – when options for treatment and cure are best – is to get a screening exam. Screening exams can often detect breast cancer before any symptoms even arise.
The OSUCCC — James experts recommend the following breast cancer screening exams
- A monthly breast self-exam
- A yearly physical exam by a medical expert (clinical breast exam)
- Annual mammograms starting at age 40 (women who are younger than 40 but have a family history of breast cancer should start getting mammograms even earlier – 10 years before the age the family member was when diagnosed. For example, if your mother was diagnosed at 40, you should start getting your mammograms at 30.)
Clinical Breast Exam
Using the pads of the fingers to feel for lumps, your doctor will check your entire breast, underarm and collarbone area, first on one side and then on the other. Your doctor will also feel your lymph nodes near the breast to see if they are enlarged and check for differences in size or shape between your breasts, as well as examine the skin of your breasts for a rash, dimpling or other abnormal features.
If you have a family history of breast cancer, especially a first-degree relative (for example, your mother, sister, daughter, father or son) who has been diagnosed with the disease, the OSUCCC – James experts recommend genetic testing.
Although only 5 -10 percent of all breast cancers are caused by an inherited gene, a family history of a known cancer gene mutation such as BRCA1/2, p53 or PTEN (Cowden’s Syndrome) can put you at much higher risk for breast cancer.
The OSUCCC – James breast cancer research experts lead some of the world’s most advanced studies, interventions, protocols and clinical trials in breast cancer risk reduction and prevention. As a National Cancer Institute (NCI)–designated comprehensive cancer center, the OSUCCC – James offers patients access to clinical trials than any hospital in the region.
During a screening mammogram, a picture of the breast is taken using X-rays. Most women should begin getting annual mammograms at age 40, although women under 40 who have a family history of breast cancer should start getting mammograms earlier —10 years before the age the youngest family member was when they were diagnosed. (For example, if your mother was diagnosed at 40, you should start getting mammograms at 30.)
Because there is no such thing as a routine mammogram, it’s important where you get your screening. Experts who read and interpret mammograms — and only mammograms — every day are the best choice for a first line of defense. Their in-depth expertise is specifically to detect breast cancer or to make sure there’s nothing to be found on your mammogram.
To make mammography services more convenient and accessible, the OSUCCC – James offers digital mammography at seven central Ohio locations as well as from a mobile mammography unit. (Our mobile unit travels to area businesses and houses of worship to offer mammography screenings for employees or members.)
Each location and the mobile unit offer the latest digital mammography technology, accredited by the American College of Radiology and certified by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Further each location is accredited by the American College of Radiology as a Breast Imaging Center of Excellence.
Please call 800-240-4477 or 614-293-4455 to make an appointment at any of our seven locations or to schedule a mobile van visit to your business or house of worship.
Diagnostic Breast Cancer Screening
If an abnormal area is detected during a screening mammogram, additional diagnostic tests may be needed. These may include:
An MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) uses radio waves and strong magnets instead of X-rays. A computer then translates these waves into a detailed picture of the breast.
An ultrasound provides an image of a specific area of the breast using sound waves.
Uses 3-D imaging of the breast from multiple angles during a short scan. The images are then reconstructed into a series of thin, high-resolution slices.
During a biopsy, your breast cancer specialist will remove a small piece of breast tissue to examine under a microscope. Biopsies for breast cancer are done in one of the following ways:
Fine Needle Aspiration
Breast tissue is removed using a thin needle.
Breast tissue is removed using a wide needle.
A small cut is made in the breast. Surgeons locate the tumor by touch or with a CT or CAT (computed axial tomography) scan, ultrasound or mammogram.
Breast Cancer Risk Factors
Anything that increases the chance of developing breast cancer is a risk factor.
The biggest risk factor for developing breast cancer is age. About 75 percent of breast cancer cases occur in women age 50 or older.
Other factors that may increase breast cancer risks are:
- Menstruating at an early age
- Older age at first birth or never having given birth
- A personal history of invasive breast cancer, ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS), lobular carcinoma in situ (LCIS), or benign (noncancer) breast disease
- A family history (first-degree relative, such as mother, daughter or sister) of breast cancer
- Having inherited changes in the BRCA1 or BRCA2 genes
- Treatment with radiation therapy to the breast/chest
- Having breast tissue that is dense on a mammogram
- Taking hormones such as estrogen and progesterone for symptoms of menopause
- Having taken the hormone diethylstilbestrol (DES) during pregnancy or being the daughter of a woman who took DES while pregnant
- Not getting enough exercise
- Drinking alcoholic beverages
- Being white
(Source: National Cancer Institute)
For patients with a family history of breast cancer, the OSUCCC – James offers counseling through the High-Risk Breast Cancer. We also offer genetic screening at the Clinical Cancer Genetics Program at the Stefanie Spielman Comprehensive Breast Center.
Not everyone with risk factors gets breast cancer. However, if you have risk factors, discuss them with your doctor.
And if you’ve been diagnosed with breast cancer, would like a second opinion, to speak with a breast cancer specialist or schedule a mammogram, please call The James Line at 800-293-5066 or 614-293-5066 to make an appointment.