We get it – you’re doing it all! Between working, shuffling kids to soccer practice and piano lessons, or running errands, it can be hard to find time for yourself. However, being proactive about your health is something you should always make a priority – this will help ensure you are here for your loved ones long into the future. One place to start is to schedule your breast screening.
Breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death among women in the U.S. The good news is routine screenings for breast cancer lower your risk of dying of breast cancer. We asked Dr. Julie Locken of Renown Health Imaging to tell us more about breast screenings.
When scheduling a mammogram, people are often asked to provide “priors.” What are prior images and why are they important?
Prior images are previous mammograms, if you have had them. They are important to have because when the radiologist is reading the mammogram they compare it to old studies, especially if they see a finding that might be a little suspicious. If that suspicious area has been in past studies for five to six years and it’s a benign finding, you likely wouldn’t need to come back for additional testing. If you don’t have prior images and the radiologist sees something suspicious, you might need to get additional testing.
We’ve been hearing a lot about dense breast tissue lately. How would a woman know if she has dense breast tissue?
Dense breast tissue (DBT) will show on the mammogram. There are two types of breast density: heterogeneously and extremely dense.
Heterogeneously dense breast tissue is considered moderately dense and found in about 40% of women, where extremely dense breast tissue is found in about 10% of women.
If a woman with dense breast tissue opts for a total breast ultrasound, does she need to have a traditional mammogram as well?
Yes. The mammogram should still be the primary screening tool as the total breast ultrasound is supplemental and not required.
The screening mammogram is the only medical imaging test proven to reduce breast cancer deaths so it’s important you get one, even if you have dense breast tissue. The mammogram can pick up calcification and distortion of the breast tissue. With dense breast tissue, the mammogram might fall a little short on identifying a lump or a mass because it will be white just like the dense breast tissue. This is where the supplemental total breast ultrasound would be a benefit.
It is important that you talk to your primary care provider when you get your results and if you have dense breast tissue, ask them what their recommendations are.