Breast Cancer Education: Mammograms

bc-education-mtp-pinkMammography is a screening tool that uses X-rays to create images of the breast. These images, called mammograms, are used to find early signs of breast cancer such as a dense mass or clusters of calcium.

Overall, mammography is the best screening tool for breast cancer used today for most women. It can find cancers at an early stage, when they are small (too small to be felt) and the chances of survival are highest.

Screening guidelines for people at average risk vary. Visit komen.org to see the breast cancer screening recommendations for women at average risk from three major health organizations.

Women who are at a higher risk of breast cancer should speak with a doctor about when and how often they should get screened. Some women ages 70 and older who are in poor health may stop regular screening. Susan G. Komen believes that women who are in good health and could benefit from treatment (if breast cancer were found) should continue to get mammograms.

At any age, if there is any question about whether you should have a mammogram, talk with a doctor.

Learn more: http://ww5.komen.org/BreastCancer/Mammography.html and  http://ww5.komen.org/uploadedFiles/_Komen/Content/About_Breast_Cancer/Tools_and_Resources/Fact_Sheets_and_Breast_Self_Awareness_Cards/Mammography.pdf

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Statement from Susan G. Komen®: Women and Healthcare Providers Should Have the Final Say on Mammogram Schedules

Susan G. Komen® shared this statement regarding breast cancer screening:

Komen Renews Concern over Task Force Proposal to Raise Routine Mammography Age

DALLAS – Jan. 11, 2016 – The leader of the world’s largest breast cancer organization says women and their doctors should be the final decision-makers when it comes to breast cancer screening, and that screening tests, if recommended by a healthcare provider, should be covered by insurers and government regardless of a woman’s age.

The comments from Susan G. Komen President and CEO Dr. Judy Salerno came in response to U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommendations, issued today, that would raise the recommended age for the start of routine mammograms from 40 to 50 for women of average risk. USPSTF issued similar recommendations in 2009.

These latest recommendations would not be implemented immediately due to a two-year moratorium imposed by Congress.

Nevertheless, Salerno said Komen is concerned that these recommendations could effectively bar access to screenings for millions of women under 50 because third party payers often use USPSTF recommendations to decide whether they will pay for certain tests.

“A lack of coverage would be most harshly felt in high-risk and underserved populations,” she said, “African-American women, for example, are often diagnosed at younger ages with aggressive forms of breast cancer – and die of breast cancer at rates over 40 percent higher than white women. Screening at younger ages is a critical tool for these women.”

“The medical field is moving toward determining individual needs for screening based on a woman’s risk,” she said. “Rather than establishing higher age-based standards that create potential barriers to care, women should be able to make informed decisions about breast cancer screening, develop a schedule that is right for them with their healthcare provider, and be assured that the screenings they need will be paid for.”

Salerno encouraged increased investment in research to develop better screening tools. Komen has funded more than $33 million to find more precise early detection methods such as blood and tissue tests. “Until those are available, mammograms are the most widely available and cost effective test that we have, and women and their healthcare providers should have access to them,” she said. Information about breast cancer risk is available on komen.org.

Statement from Susan G. Komen®: Women Should Have Access to, Coverage for Mammography

Susan G. Komen® shared this statement regarding breast cancer screening:

World’s Largest Breast Cancer Organization Reiterates that Screening Should Be Based on Individual Risk and is Decision for Women and their Health Care Providers

DALLAS – Oct. 20, 2015 – The Susan G. Komen® breast cancer organization today said that all women should have access to regular mammograms when they and their health care providers decide that it is the right time for screening based on individual risk for breast cancer, and that the screening tests should be covered by third-party payers such as insurance companies and government programs.

Komen’s statement came following the release of new American Cancer Society (ACS) screening guidelines, published today in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA). In the guidelines, ACS raised its recommended age for annual screening mammograms from 40 to 45 for women of average risk for breast cancer, with biennial mammography for women 55-74. The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) also has drafted guidelines that would raise the recommended age for regular mammography to 50 for women of average risk.

“We have a great deal of respect for the ACS and the USPSTF, their expert committees and their thorough review of the scientific literature to inform the current guidelines. Although guidelines may differ regarding the age at which routine screening should begin, there is agreement that mammography is the best available tool for detecting breast cancer and that women and their health care providers should decide when those screenings should begin for individuals,” said Dr. Judy Salerno, President and CEO of Susan G. Komen.

Salerno said that the continuing debate over the timing of mammography fails to address several important issues.

“First, the medical field is moving toward determining individual needs for screening based on a woman’s risk, such as family history of breast cancer. Ultimately, women must have better and more accurate information about their individual risk for breast cancer so that they and their providers can make informed decisions about the screening schedule that is right for them. Knowledge is power,” she said. Information about breast cancer risk is available on komen.org.

“Second, it is estimated that about one-third of women who should be screened do not access these services. This means that we must take all steps necessary to ensure that women don’t face economic or other barriers when their health care providers recommend screening. It’s well established that early detection, combined with effective treatment, reduces mortality from breast cancer.”

“Third – and this is a point we’ve made often – we absolutely must continue to invest in finding screening methods that are more accurate, cost-effective, easy-to-administer, and more widely available than mammography,” Salerno said. Komen has invested more than $33 million to date into research to find better screening technology for breast cancer, such as blood and tissue tests.

The ACS recommendations are not binding on health care providers or payers, Salerno noted, “but we are concerned that they have the potential to lead to reduced accessibility to and coverage for health screenings from both private and public insurers.”

In addition to its new recommended screening ages, ACS said clinical breast exams – the manual palpation of the breast and axilla (underarm) by trained health care providers – are no longer necessary as they did not reduce mortality from breast cancer and because better screening tools, such as mammography, are available. Clinical breast exams are usually conducted during routine “well woman” doctor visits, often beginning when a woman is in her 20s.

“As a practical matter, clinical breast exams take very little time, are not invasive, and may be the only form of breast screening available, especially in rural areas and for younger women who are not at an age when regular mammography would be indicated,” Salerno said, adding that more information is needed on the efficacy of clinical breast exams.

Salerno said Komen and its scientific advisors will closely review the ACS recommendations, including mammography and clinical breast exams.

She acknowledged concerns about “overtreatment” for breast lesions or tumors that are found early but might not develop into cancer. “This is a real issue, but one that also requires education, so that women can have discussions with their health care providers about the course of cancer treatment that is right for them. And more research is needed to help determine which women may go on to have invasive cancer.  A woman cannot make a decision about treatment, however, if she hasn’t been screened.”

Komen also is investing in research that would allow health care providers to accurately differentiate between breast lesions that will become cancerous, and those that won’t.

Breast Cancer Education: Mammograms

2015KomenNCR-NBCAMGraphicFaceookCover-GeneralMammography is a screening tool that uses X-rays to create images of the breast. These images, called mammograms, are used to find early signs of breast cancer such as a dense mass or clusters of calcium.

Mammography is the best screening tool for breast cancer used today. It can find cancers at an early stage, when they are small (too small to be felt) and the chances of survival are highest.

X-ray images of the breast can be captured on film or stored directly onto a computer (digital). Film and digital mammography are similar in their ability to detect breast cancer. Because digital images are viewed on a computer, they can be lightened or darkened, and certain sections can be enlarged and looked at more closely. This ability to control the images on a computer makes digital mammography more accurate than film mammography for some women. And, because the images are stored on a computer, they can be shared more easily with another radiologist for review.

Guidelines for people at average risk vary. Most major cancer organizations recommend that mammograms begin at age 40 for women who are at average risk for breast cancer.

Women who are at a higher risk for breast cancer should speak with their doctor about when and how often they should get screened. Some women ages 70 and older may stop regular screening. Susan G. Komen recommends that women who are in good health and could benefit from treatment (if breast cancer were found) should continue to get mammograms.

At any age, if there is any question about whether you should have a mammogram, talk to your health care provider.

Learn more: http://ww5.komen.org/BreastCancer/Mammography.html

Learn more: http://ww5.komen.org/uploadedFiles/_Komen/Content/About_Breast_Cancer/Tools_and_Resources/Fact_Sheets_and_Breast_Self_Awareness_Cards/Mammography.pdf

We’re celebrating National Breast Cancer Awareness Month for the next six weeks. Connect with and follow Komen St. Louis and use #Komen365 to join in the conversation.

Breast Cancer Education: Clinical Breast Exam

2015KomenNCR-NBCAMGraphicFaceookCover-GeneralA clinical breast exam (CBE) is a physical exam done by a health care provider as part of your regular medical check-up. Your provider should carefully feel your breasts and underarms for any changes or abnormalities (such as a lump). He/she should visually check your breasts while you are sitting up and physically examine your breasts while you are lying down. It is important to ask for a CBE if one is not offered at your check-up.

If you are age 20-39 years, you should have a CBE at least every three years. If you are 40 or older, have your mammogram close to the time of your CBE. In women ages 40 and older, CBE combined with mammography may find more cancers than mammography alone. When used together at yearly check-ups, fewer breast cancers are missed. However, whereas CBE is an important complement to mammography, it is not a substitute for mammograms in women 40 and older.

The National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) recommends that men at higher risk for breast cancer have a clinical breast exam every six to 12 months, starting at age 35. Women who are at a higher risk for breast cancer should speak with their doctor about when and how often they should get screened.

Learn more: http://ww5.komen.org/BreastCancer/ClinicalBreastExam.html

We’re celebrating National Breast Cancer Awareness Month for the next six weeks. Connect with and follow Komen St. Louis and use #Komen365 to join in the conversation.

Komen St. Louis’ 2015 Community Partner of the Year: MoBap’s “Reaching the Underserved” Program

We are fortunate to work side by side with committed health care professionals and organizations that provide quality breast health care to women, men and families in our community. These partners dedicate themselves year-round to provide breast cancer screening, breast health education and patient navigation and support services to individuals in need in the St. Louis region.

Theresa Taylor of the Missouri Baptist Breast HealthCare Center accepts the Komen St. Louis 2015 Community Partner of the Year Award from Komen St. Louis Executive Director Helen Chesnut

Theresa Taylor of the Missouri Baptist Breast HealthCare Center accepts the Komen St. Louis 2015 Community Partner of the Year Award from Komen St. Louis Executive Director Helen Chesnut

The recipient of the 2015 Komen St. Louis Community Partner of the Year Award is committed to supporting the mission of saving lives and ending breast cancer forever. We were delighted to present this award to Missouri Baptist Breast HealthCare Center’s “Reaching the Underserved” Program at our 6th Annual Power of the Promise luncheon.

With funding from Komen St. Louis, this program provides increased access to breast screening and diagnostic services, along with breast health education and outreach.

Through the Reaching the Underserved program, a mammography van travels throughout the area, including many rural communities where women may not otherwise have access to mammograms. Through the program’s educational component, individuals throughout our community learn the importance of early detection of breast cancer.

2015-2016 is the 14th year of Komen St. Louis funding for this program.

Congratulations to Missouri Baptist Breast HealthCare Center and all involved with the “Reaching the Underserved” program! Thank you for your year-round effort!

Susan G. Komen® St. Louis and The Breast HealthCare Center at Missouri Baptist: Partnering Together to Help Women in Need Region Wide

The fear of breast cancer is something that’s haunted Jodi Roberts, 49, of Fredericktown, MO, for nearly 30 years. “It’s like I’ve been living my adult life, constantly looking over my shoulder, just waiting for it to find me. Deep down, I always knew it would show up someday,” she said.

Jodi has a strong family history of breast cancer. Two of her aunts battled the disease. One survived, and the other didn’t. Jodi’s mother was diagnosed at the age of 44, and elected to undergo a mastectomy of the one breast. However, the cancer soon returned in the other breast. This time, it was much more invasive, leaving her with a grim prognosis. Sadly, she lost her battle at age 46.

Jodi Roberts

Jodi Roberts

Jodi was only 21 at the time, but she remembers it well. “It was hard to watch my mother suffer from breast cancer, but it also reminded me that I needed to be proactive when it came to my own breast health,” she said.

Jodi kept her commitment to her health, undergoing mammograms every year, starting when she was in her thirties. Due to financial constraints, Jodi has relied on the services of the Missouri Baptist Medical Center digital mammography van and the hospital’s “Reaching the Underserved” program.

Funded by a Susan G. Komen® St. Louis grant for the past 13 years, the Missouri Baptist Breast HealthCare Center’s “Reaching the Underserved” program provides the hospital with resources to support uninsured and underinsured at-risk women (ages 40 to 64) throughout the region. Services are provided at the hospital’s main campus in Town & Country and on its digital mammography van, which travels to neighborhoods across St. Louis and rural towns throughout Missouri. Follow-up breast health services are provided at Missouri Baptist for women with mammography abnormalities.

“Jodi started undergoing her annual screening mammograms with our outreach program in 2010,” said Theresa Taylor, an outreach coordinator for the Missouri Baptist Breast HealthCare Center and a two-time breast cancer survivor. “With our program, we educate women by emphasizing the importance of early detection and how annual mammography screenings can save your life, especially someone like Jodi with such a strong family history.”

In September 2014, Jodi had her annual mammogram on Missouri Baptist’s digital mammography van when it traveled to Fredericktown. A couple weeks later, she received a letter indicating there was an abnormality in her left breast, which required further testing. So Jodi underwent a diagnostic mammogram and an ultrasound; however, the results were inconclusive. That’s when the medical team at Missouri Baptist recommended a biopsy.

Theresa Taylor

Theresa Taylor

On December 5, 2014, Jodi was told the news she had feared for almost 30 years: she had breast cancer. “Even though I wasn’t surprised about my diagnosis, I was still nervous about what was to come. I’ve seen the effects of breast cancer firsthand,” said Jodi.

Jodi then met with Paul Yazdi, MD, FACS, a breast surgeon and surgical director of the Missouri Baptist Breast HealthCare Center, to discuss her diagnosis, treatment options and prognosis. Although Jodi’s breast cancer was stage zero, it was also triple negative, so hormone treatments weren’t an option.

“After watching my mom suffer, I knew having a mastectomy would be the best decision for me. I also didn’t want to take any chances, so I opted for a double mastectomy,” said Jodi. “The last thing I want to worry about is having it come back in the other breast like it did with my mom.”

Dr. Yazdi supported Jodi’s decision, and on January 13, 2015, he performed a successful bilateral mastectomy on Jodi. Her recovery went very smoothly with no issues. More importantly, the breast cancer was contained within the ducts and completely removed. “I am really lucky, because we caught it early. I am living-proof that early detection saves lives,” said Jodi.

Jodi’s breast cancer services – two mammograms, ultrasound and biopsy – were covered by the Komen St. Louis-funded “Reaching the Underserved” grant program. Without this program, Jodi would not have been able to afford the cancer care she needed.

“I am very grateful to the medical team at MoBap’s Breast HealthCare Center. They made the entire process so much easier, holding my hand from the very beginning, explaining all of the treatment options, and helping me find the financial support I needed,” said Jodi. “And of course, I am very thankful for my wonderful husband, Lee, who has been my rock throughout this entire journey.”

The future looks bright for Jodi. Thanks to regular screenings, she is confident that she avoided the same fate as her mother. She is also confident that her daughter, Amanda, 26, will be just as proactive about getting her annual mammogram when the time comes. Jodi hopes that by sharing her story, women – including those who are uninsured and underinsured – will better understand the value of annual mammograms. According to Jodi, “it’s the best defense in the fight against breast cancer.”

“I am blessed to be in this position to offer these breast health services to so many women in need in our local and rural communities,” said Theresa. “Jodi is a great example of how the money raised for Susan G. Komen St. Louis is invested directly into our community to help those who need it most.”