Women are regularly reminded to get their mammograms as a proactive measure in finding cancer early and in maintaining their breast health. Unfortunately, the pandemic resulted in many putting elective procedures on hold.
“The substantial decline in cancer screening procedures has led to an increase in cancer diagnoses. The medical community cannot emphasize enough the importance of keeping routine appointments to avoid or treat potential disease,” says Michelle Cacek, DO, radiologist, Quantum Imaging & Therapeutic Associates.
UPMC facilities have offered screening mammograms during the pandemic and continue to do so with many safety precautions in place. The Society of Breast Imaging, along with the American College of Radiology and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, recommends a screening mammogram every year, once a year, for all women aged 40 and older who have an average risk for breast cancer.
Mammography has been proven to be the single best test for detecting breast cancer early and is the only screening method proven to lower mortality rates. According to the American Cancer Society, when breast cancer is detected early in the localized stage, the 5-year relative survival rate is 99%.
Detecting these cancers at their earliest stages requires optimal imaging techniques, advanced equipment, and a radiologist who understands how breast cancers can initially manifest on a woman’s mammogram. UPMC radiologists are fellowship trained imagers who specialize in finding breast cancer and have additional years of training in breast care.
“At UPMC in Central Pa. Imaging, we provide the most comprehensive and convenient services in the region and are designated a Breast Imaging Center of Excellence by the American College of Radiology. Few centers boast this seal of accreditation,” says Dr. Cacek.
“Our patients have access to the most advanced diagnostic technology available, including the Genius™ 3D Mammography exam, which is the only mammogram that is FDA approved as superior for dense breasts. Additionally, several of our UPMC facilities can biopsy abnormalities utilizing tomosynthesis guidance,” says Dr. Cacek.
“Annual mammograms are still the single best thing you can do to help protect yourself from dying of breast cancer.” says Dr. Cacek.
Preparing for your mammogram
• Inform your doctor of any breast changes or problems prior to exam.
• Share any prior surgeries, hormone use, and family or personal history of breast cancer.
• Do not schedule your screening mammogram for the week before your menstrual period.
• Always inform your doctor or x-ray technologist if there is any possibility that you are pregnant.
• Do not wear deodorant, talcum powder, or lotion under your arms or on your breasts on the day of the exam. These can be confused for calcium deposits on the mammogram.
• Obtain any prior mammograms if they were done at a different location. This is needed for comparison with your current exam.
• Ask when your results will be available; do not assume the results are normal if you do not hear from your doctor or the mammography facility.
For more information, visit UPMC.com/CentralPa.