Rethink your PINK
October is the month when the world is lit, draped, clad and colored PINK. Everyone, unless they live under a dark mossy rock, knows that it means it is breast cancer awareness month. I have never personally been a fan of the pink ribbon as a symbol of breast cancer. Anyone who knows me or my practice knows that the pink I speak of is pink rose quartz, as it is the crystal that holds the energy of “Self LOVE”. So this October, show some self love and be proactive about your breast imaging.
Let’s rethink the Pink!
My suggestion for October 2022: let’s not just PINK out, lets SHOUT out GET SCREENED! Mammograms and advanced breast imaging DO NOT prevent breast cancer. What they can do is potentially prevent death from breast cancer by finding it at a very early “pre-clinical” (before you can feel it) stage.
Here is what you, your friends and family need to know about breast imaging.
- Mammograms take a hit in the media quite often, but they are still our best offensive move for early detection.
- Baseline mammogram is recommended between age 35-40 and annually thereafter. (ASBrS and ACR) 3-D Tomosynthesis is the latest and greatest technology and many women will benefit from this form of screening.
- The MOST IMPORTANT part of breast imaging is the human reading your mammogram! Make sure that the person reading, ie. interpreting your mammogram, is a dedicated breast imager. This means that they have dedicated their practice completely to breast imaging and /or have completed a breast imaging fellowship.
- Legislation requires your imaging center inform you if your breasts are dense. (higher than average fibrous tissue that makes mammograms more difficult to interpret as things can hid from even the most skilled trained eye) If your report reads that you have “dense breasts” you may qualify for another screening test called an ABUS (automated whole breast ultrasound). ABUS can be ordered and scheduled for you screening appointment if you have dense breasts.
- MRI of the breast (magnetic resonance imaging) is reserved for individuals at higher than average risk for developing breast cancer. Ask your doctor what your risk is based upon the Tyrer-Cusick risk model. (They estimate your lifetime risk based upon family history and other parameters).
Get screened and one final shout out reminder: If you feel a mass in your breast and you are told that your imaging is normal, raise your hand (figuratively) and tell your doctor that something in your breast is not feeling normal!
Up to 20% of cancers can be hidden by even our most sensitive imaging technologies due to breast density, location of the mass and because they are just plain stealthy. So be proactive and follow through until you have a definitive answer by a breast care specialist.