Together We Can -- Newsletter of the Joan Karnell Cancer Center
 

Fall 2007

Mammography... Making a Difference
Message from the Administrator
From Screening to Treatment
Honors, Awards & Publications
New Clinic: Cancer Appetite and Rehabilitation (CARE)
OncoLife Survivorship Care Plan
Survivors Day 2007
Recent Events
One Step Ahead: Education and Support Group
 
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Mammography... Making a Difference

In 1977, more than 160,000 women in Sweden were divided into two groups – those that received mammograms every two or three years and those that did not. Seven years later, the physicians administering the study looked at the results.

In those women who received regular mammograms, the risk of dying from breast cancer had been reduced by more than 30 percent, and the risk of developing late-stage and more advanced breast cancer had dropped by 25 percent.

How do the experiences of two groups of Swedish women in the ‘70s relate to you? “Getting a mammogram can save your life,” says Dahlia Sataloff, MD, director of the Integrated Breast Center at Pennsylvania Hospital. “In fact, the likelihood of surviving the disease is probably even greater than 30 percent now, since the mammograms in that study were performed on much older equipment. From a technology perspective, a lot has changed in 30 years.”

Faster, Better Images
Mammography is still considered the standard for breast cancer screening, however, the machines that perform mammography have been significantly improved allowing for better and faster images – which means patients may spend less time on the machine and get faster results.

New technologies are making the experience
faster, more accurate and more comfortable.

“Digital mammograms, in particular, may be more comfortable for some patients and the amount of time it takes to read the images is shorter,” says Brian Englander, MD, chief of breast imaging at Pennsylvania Hospital. In short, a digital mammogram takes an X-ray of the breasts and stores it in a computer. In film mammography, the image of the breasts is created on film (think of 35 mm cameras) and cannot be manipulated. Clinical studies have demonstrated that digital mammography offers better image quality, especially for women with dense breast tissue.

Other Tools: MRI & Ultrasound
In addition to mammograms, the American Cancer Society recently began recommending magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) for high-risk patients. The MRI does not replace the mammogram; rather it should be performed in conjunction with it. MRI scans are more sensitive than mammograms and using the two scans together enables physicians to see additional areas of the breast tissue.

A doctor may also recommend an ultrasound if, after viewing the mammogram, there are additional areas in question. Ultrasound uses high-frequency sound waves to create an image and, in breast screening, can be used to distinguish between structures in the breast tissue.

“Mammography is an easy test that can save your life,” says Dr. Sataloff. “Why wouldn’t you do it?”

“A mammogram is still your first step. These other tools – MRI and
ultrasound – are usually recommended if you are at high risk, you have dense breasts and your doctors would like additional views, or if an abnormality is found,” says Dr. Englander. If an abnormality is found, centers like the Integrated Breast Center at Pennsylvania Hospital take any additional images that they may need on the same day as your initial mammogram appointment.

The Answers Patients Need, Right Away
“What makes our center special is that when you leave, you'll know what's going on,” says Dr. Sataloff. “You're not going to be sent home worrying about whether or not we found anything. You'll know right away. And if we did find something, you'll get any additional tests you need right there, the same day.”

Experience Matters
Taking a good image is one thing but having someone who can accurately read and interpret it is another. “Our radiologists are devoted to breast imaging,” continues Dr. Englander. “They are board certified and fellowship-accredited, which means they have a lot of experience reading these types of images. In fact, we're the only center in Philadelphia with radiologists fellowship accredited in breast imaging.”

“Mammography is an easy test that can save your life,” says Dr. Sataloff. “Why wouldn't you do it?”

For more information or to schedule an appointment at the Integrated Breast Center at Pennsylvania Hospital, call 800-789-PENN (7366) or visit the web site.

 


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