Throughout your life, your breast tissue changes in response to fluctuations in hormones during the menstrual cycle and due to structural changes brought on by aging. Because of these changes, lumps sometimes can be detected either by touch or through mammography. Although eight out of 10 are not cancerous, it is important to have these areas of concern examined by your physician or health care professional.
Breast cancer remains the No. 1 cancer diagnosed in women. Although the American Cancer Society predicts that one in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer, early diagnosis and treatment can result in a greater than 95 percent survival rate.
Three methods of early detection that women should practice are: monthly breast self-exams, annual clinical breast examinations by a health care professional and mammograms.
- Breast Self-Exam (BSE) Since the signs of breast cancer are not the same for all women, it is important to know how your breasts normally look and feel. If you notice any change, see your health care provider.
- Clinical Breast Exam (CBE) A CBE should be a part of every yearly health exam for women 20 years of age and older. During the exam, your doctor or nurse will carefully feel your breasts and under your arms to check for lumps and other changes. During the CBE, your health care provider can show you the correct way to perform a breast self-exam.
- Mammography is the only test known that lowers a woman’s risk of dying from breast cancer.
Individualized Care Using a Team Approach
The Breast Health Centers provide individualized, quality breast health care. We care for you from the moment you come in for a screening exam, through your entire breast health journey.
Our approach ensures you receive the most comprehensive risk assessment based on your individual and family medical history. You will undergo the most appropriate screening and diagnostic care without the burden of unnecessary tests.
Mammography—Screening and Diagnostic
Women age 40 and older should have an annual mammogram.
Mammography is a screening exam which helps detect masses and calcifications before a physician or patient can feel them. Traditional 2D mammography includes two views of each breast from above and from the side.
Diagnostic mammography is performed on patients who have a current problem, such as pain, lump, nipple discharge or skin changes.
Three-dimensional (3-D) mammography, also known as digital breast tomosynthesis, is the latest mammogram technology for breast cancer screening. It can better differentiate a cancer from overlying glandular tissue. This increases cancer detection and decreases chances of a “false positive,” which is a result that indicates that a given condition is present when it is not.
Ultrasound evaluates breast tissue by using sound waves instead of radiation to produce an image of the breast. Ultrasound is particularly valuable in determining the difference between a cyst (fluid-filled mass) and a tumor (solid mass).
Breast MRI is available for women at increased risk for breast cancer. This provides detailed images that can detect small tumors. The MRI can also examine lymph nodes in the underarm, an area often difficult to assess, and provides guidance for MRI biopsies of the breast. For premenopausal women, the best timing for breast MRI is day 7-15 of the menstrual cycle (day 1 is defined as the first day of bleeding).
Osteoporosis Screening / Bone Densitometry
Bone density testing is one of the most effective ways to assess your risk for developing osteoporosis, a condition that causes bones to become thinner, more fragile and more likely to break. The Breast Health Centers offer DEXA osteoporosis scanning of your bones. This non-invasive test provides early detection of osteoporosis for treatment, which may help you avoid the most serious consequences of osteoporosis.
Preparing for Your Mammogram
If you have undergone a previous mammography exam, please tell the office when scheduling your appointment. This way, your past and current exams can be compared to assess any changes to your breast tissue. Provide as much information as you can about your previous breast exams, including mammography dates and locations, other breast imaging tests, biopsies and/or treatments.
Please arrive 10 to 15 minutes before your appointment to allow time for registration. Registration will require a photo ID, insurance cards and any orders your physician gave you. On the day of your exam, do not wear deodorant, lotion, creams, talcum or baby powder under your arms or on your breasts because these products may interfere with the quality of your images.
After the exam, one of our radiologists will interpret your results. A copy of your report will be sent to your referring physician in one to two business days. A delay may occur if mammograms from non-Lee Health centers are needed for comparison.
You should expect to receive a letter from our facility about your results within two weeks.
Please contact our scheduling department at 239-343-1999 if you need to cancel or reschedule your appointment.
What if Something Abnormal is Found?
The purpose of the mammogram is to detect abnormalities in the breast tissue. Abnormalities are found in approximately 6 to 8 percent of women who have screening mammograms. If your results suggest an abnormality, you will require further evaluation, which may include diagnostic mammography, breast ultrasound, MRI, and possibly a biopsy.
If you require more tests, our office will contact you by telephone or mail. Remember, most of the abnormalities found on a mammogram are not breast cancer.