By Margarita L. Zuley, M.D., director of Breast Imaging at Magee-Womens Hospital of UPMC
|Margarita L. Zuley, M.D.|
Should women begin breast cancer screenings at age 40 or 50?
Should screenings occur annually or every other year? What about women with a
strong family history of breast cancer? Are mammograms sufficient, or should
women request additional or even alternate testing?
Breast cancer screening guidelines have been confusing the last few years, but Magee-Womens Hospital of UPMC’s stance remains very clear: Women should begin getting mammograms at age 40 and continue with yearly mammograms. If a woman has a strong family history of breast cancer, she should consult with her physician to determine the ideal age to begin screening, which may be earlier than age 40.
Mammography remains the gold standard when it comes to
breast cancer screening – every other test should be conducted in addition to
an annual mammogram. At Magee, other breast cancer screening options might
include any of the following:
Recent advertisements have promoted thermography as a viable
choice for breast cancer screening.
Despite widely publicized claims to the contrary, thermography should
not be used in place of mammography for breast cancer screening or diagnosis. Thermography
produces an infrared image that shows the patterns of heat and blood flow on or
near the surface of the body, and marketing materials claim it can detect breast
cancer years before mammography, but there is absolutely no scientific data to
support this claim. Neither the Food and
Drug Administration nor Magee supports replacing mammography with
or 3-D mammography, uses low-energy X-rays to create a 3-D image of the
breast. This new technology has an
approximate 30 percent reduction rate in recalling patients for additional,
unnecessary evaluation as well as a significant increase in cancer detection
over standard mammography alone.
imaging uses high-frequency sound waves to produce images, and may be used
in addition to mammography to help radiologists determine if abnormalities in
the breast are solid tumors or fluid-filled cysts. For women with a moderate
increased risk of breast cancer who also have dense breast tissue (based on
mammography), ultrasound has been shown to increase cancer detection.
Resonance Imaging (MRI)s used in conjunction with traditional mammography to provide high-quality images that may lead
to the early detection of breast cancer for high-risk women. MRI is also used to help plan breast surgeries
and for other diagnostic reasons.
Our goal at Magee is to make sure every patient has access
to state of the art, scientifically proven technology that detects cancer in
its earliest stages and does the least amount of harm to the body. If you have
further questions, don’t hesitate to visit us at Magee-Womens Imaging.