Breast Cancer Screening
The American Cancer Society’s current breast cancer screening guidelines recommend yearly mammograms at age 40, continuing for as long as a woman is in good health.
Breast exams should be done about every 3 years for women in their 20s and 30s and every year for women 40 and over. All women should know how their breasts normally look and feel and should report ANY breast change promptly to their doctor or nurse. Breast self-exam (BSE) is an option for women starting in their 20s.
The breast cancer screening tests most commonly used
Breast Self Exam
Self-exams help women to become familiar with how their breasts normally look and feel. Any lumps or physical changes, such as changes in size, shape or color, should be brought to the attention of a health care professional. While self exams can help you determine if there are any changes in your breasts, there are routine screening exams that can only be performed in a clinical setting, including clinical breast exams and mammograms.
Clinical Breast Exam
Regular screening from a physician is vital because it can help detect cancer before a lump may be noticeable This is an examination of the breasts and underarm areas performed by a physician or nurse using his or her hands to feel for lumps, masses or anything unusual.
This is the current gold standard in breast cancer screening. A mammogram is an x-ray of the breast (usually two X-ray images of each breast from different angles – top to bottom and side to side) that is interpreted by a specialized radiologist. When performed regularly in conjunction with a clinical breast exam and monthly self-exams, a mammogram can be a very effective cancer-screening tool.
Additional Screening Techniques
Depending on your family history and breast anatomy, you may require additional screening techniques, including:
This screening is a type of three-dimensional mammogram that takes multiple breast images from many angles.
A large magnet, radio waves, and a computer are used to produce detailed images of the breast structure.
Ultrasound is useful for screening women with dense breasts. Ultrasound produces multiple images that can be interpreted along with the traditional radiographic images of mammography.
The Breast Center at Imagecare
This is one of the Capital Region’s few full service breast centers with board certified subspecialized radiologists, who provide the latest in breast cancer screening and diagnosis. Services include digital mammography, ultrasound, breast MRI, and biopsy services. ImageCare has full service, accredited Breast Centers in Latham and Clifton Park, NY.
ImageCare Medical Imaging
In addition to the two accredited Breast Imaging Centers in Latham and Clifton Park, NY, ImageCare also provides screening mammography with tomosynthesis (3D) at ImageCare Balltown in Schenectady, NY, ImageCare Guilderland in Guilderland, NY, and ImageCare Saratoga in Saratoga Springs, NY.
Capital Region Women's Care
These physicians offer screening mammography at the North Greenbush location in Troy, NY. All screenings done at this site are interpreted by the subspecialized breast radiologists of ImageCare Medical Imaging.
If something suspicious is found during your screening exam, your doctor will recommend additional testing to verify if there is disease present. Further testing may include imaging tests, including breast ultrasound, or sonography, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of the breast, and aspiration, needle, or surgical biopsy. Imaging tests or surgical procedures may be done for a number of reasons, including find out whether a suspicious area might be cancerous, to learn how far cancer may have spread, and to help determine if treatment is working. Our specialists are here to answer all of your questions and explain each step and result to you. We can also help connect you with support services if desired.
CCP offers numerous state-of-the-art options for breast cancer treatment — including surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation oncology, or a combination of these options. Our goal is to provide you with numerous options for care in a comfortable setting. Our surgeons at Community Care General Surgery use leading technological advances for their treatment for your lumpectomy and or other surgical needs. Our medical oncologists at Upstate Hematology Oncology (UHO) provide chemotherapy in separate suites. Our radiation oncologists at Image Guided Radiation Therapy (IGRT) offer patients with breast cancer both the traditional and prone technique. The prone technique may help spare the heart and lungs during treatment in women with a large amount of breast tissue. We can help you navigate the various cancer treatment options available to you and encourage you to meet with our physicians to discuss your options and personal care plan in more detail.
Breast Cancer Genetic Counseling
You can develop breast cancer without having a strong family history of the disease. However, when there is a higher incidence of breast cancer in your family, there may be reason to believe that a person has inherited an abnormal gene linked to higher breast cancer.
The Gail Model
There is a formula available called the Gail model that helps put a number value on a woman’s breast cancer risk. One of the elements in the calculation has to do with the number of first degree relatives who have had breast cancer. First degree relatives would be mothers, sisters and daughters. This number is then entered into the formula along with other parameters and the program gives a percentage number of the risk.
Your Family History
If there appears to be a number of relatives with breast cancer and they are particularly young or if the patient herself is young (under fifty) we may be dealing with specific mutations known as BRCA 1 and BRCA 2. BRCA1 and BRCA2 are human genes that produce tumor suppressor proteins, which help repair damaged DNA. These proteins help ensure the stability of the genetic material of cells. When either of these genes, BRCA1 or BRCA2, are mutated, cancer may develop.
Specific inherited mutations of BRCA1 and BRCA2 tend to increase the risk of female breast and ovarian cancers. About 12% of women in the general population will develop breast cancer sometime during their lives. However, according to the most recent estimates, 65% of women who inherit a BRCA1 mutation and about 45% of women who inherit a BRCA2 mutation will develop breast cancer by the age of 70.
Many people decide to learn whether or not they have an abnormal gene that is linked to higher breast cancer risk. A genetic test involves giving a blood sample that can be analyzed to pick up any abnormalities in these genes. Community Care Physicians has genetic counselors available to you to review the benefits and risks of genetic testing and to answer any questions you may have.
Locations for Genetic Testing and Counseling
Upstate Hematology Oncology
Upstate Hematology Oncology partners with the Ferra Institute, which is the only genetic counselor assigned to the Albany, NY area. When a patient comes to Upstate Hematology Oncology, the genetic counselors with meet with the patient, perform the genetic testing, and explain the results and implications to you and your family.
Capital Region Women's Care
Capital Region Women’s Care performs genetic testing for women at the North Greenbush location, including Gail Model and BRCA1 and BRCA2 testing.