What is surprising is
that a adult woman today has a 1 in 8 lifetime risk of
developing breast cancer. Yet, breast cancer is one of the most easily treated forms of
cancer if caught early enough. There are several options for
early detection which include self examination, physical exam
by a physician, a mammogram and breast MRI and even a breast
biopsy. Widespread use of mammography
to detect lumps and even pre-cancerous cellular changes is
regarded as one of the most successful innovations in modern
public health that has helped with the fight against breast
cancer. The National Cancer Institute recommends that women
age 40 or older receive a mammogram every 1 to 2 years and for
high risk women this decreases to every year and include a
breast MRI. As a women ages, her chances for breast cancer
increase. Yet, in El Paso there are still over 25% of women
ages 45 to 54 years of age that have never received a
Recently an important study called DMIST (Digital Mammographic Imaging
Screening Trial), sponsored by the National Cancer Institute
and published online by the New England Journal of Medicine
that looked at different types of mammograms; digital vs. film
showed that 65% of women would benefit from the use of digital
mammography over the tradition film screen mammography (see
DMIST). These women are;
- under age 50 (regardless of level of
breast tissue density)
- of any age, with heterogeneously
(very dense) or extremely dense breast tissue.
- or pre or perimenopausal women of any
age (defined as women who had a last menstrual period within
12 months of their mammograms).
In film mammography, which has been used for over 35 years,
the image is created directly on a film. A major limitation of
film mammography is the film itself. Once a film mammogram is
obtained, it cannot be significantly altered; if the film is
underexposed, for example, contrast is lost and cannot be
regained. Digital mammography takes an electronic image of the
breast and stores it directly in a computer. Digital offers
some obvious advantages beyond the higher sensitivity for
certain groups of patients. Images made on a computer are
easier to store and move from one medical office to another.
It's similar to having a digital camera vs. a 35mm camera.
At present, only 8 percent of the
mammography units in the United States have digital systems,
whereas approximately 40 percent of women undergoing screening
mammography have dense breasts. It will be impossible for all
women who have dense breasts to receive digital mammograms, at
least for the near future. As more digital mammography systems
become available, more women in the groups who are likely to
benefit from digital mammography will have access to this
What does National Cancer Institute (NCI) recommend for
NCI recommends that:
- Women in their 40s should be screened
every one to two years with mammography
- Women aged 50 and older should be
screened every one to two years.
- Women who are at higher than average
risk of breast cancer should seek expert medical advice
about whether they should begin screening before age 40 and
the frequency of screening Click her for more information
about being at High Risk
A woman is considered high risk
for breast cancer if;
- Women who have very dense breasts.
Women who have breast implants.
- Women who have a personal history of
breast cancer or who have 1st degree relatives with breast
- Women who have had radiation therapy
to the chest between ages 10 and 30 for lymphoma or
- Women who have BRCA1 or BRCA2 genetic
defects or 1st degree relatives with those defects .
- Women with a new diagnosis of breast
cancer in one breast to determine if there is cancer in the
- Women who have cancer in an axillary
lymph gland with out obvious primary.