Mammograms are specialized low-dose x-ray images of the breast used to detect breast cancer and other issues. They are often performed regularly as a screening tool in healthy women to ensure early detection of a cancer. Sometimes it can be detected years earlier than can be noticed on breast self examinations. They are also performed as part of an evaluation when a breast problem arises, such as a lump, skin changes or nipple discharge.
The Kent Breast Health Center uses advanced 3D mammograms called digital breast tomosynthesis. This gives our radiologists a three-dimensional look at breast tissue, versus the traditional two-dimensional images, which means they have a clearer and more comprehensive view. The result is earlier detection and decreased false positives. Findings on a mammogram require needle biopsy. When found at its early, breast cancer treatment often requires less surgery, radiation or drug treatment.
Everyone’s risk of developing breast cancer is unique. Therefore the screening regimen they need is also unique. We recommend you discuss your risk of developing breast cancer with your primary care provider or gynecologist so you can decide on a schedule that’s right for you.
Women with an average risk of developing breast cancer should start annual mammograms between 40-45 years old, per the American Cancer Society Guidelines, and continue at least until age 55. At 55 years old they may choose to decrease mammograms to every 2 years until life expectancy is less than 10 years.
Women with a “high risk” of developing breast cancer are recommended to start screening earlier on a case-by-case basis. This may consist of annual mammograms and breast MRIs and/or ultrasounds, but the specific schedule is up to you and your doctor.
You may be considered “high risk” if you have any of the following:
The Kent Breast Cancer Risk Assessment Program provides your lifetime estimated risk of breast cancer for all patients that undergo mammograms at The Kent Breast Health Center.
This risk assessment is a calculation that takes into account personal history, family history, and other risk factors in order to provide an estimated chance of developing breast cancer. It can help you and your doctor chooses a screening regimen and preventative options.
If you think you may be at high risk of developing breast cancer, we encourage you to speak with your doctor about undergoing a risk assessment. The Breast Health Center High Risk Program also offers this service if requested by your physician. For an appointment call (401) 736-4260, to schedule a consultation with one of our providers.