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All women are encouraged to get an annual mammogram starting at age 40. Through early diagnosis, mammograms have been shown to decrease breast cancer deaths by 40 percent. Seventy percent of breast cancer deaths in 2013 affected women who did not get a mammogram. Consult your primary care provider if you have a family history of breast cancer. You may consider getting screened earlier or more frequently.
We follow the mammogram guidelines recommended by the American College of Radiology, American College of Physicians, American College of Surgeons, American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, and the National Comprehensive Cancer Network.
After your mammogram, we may recommend additional mammographic views or a breast ultrasound. Additional images may be necessary if the original images were not complete or if the radiologist wants to focus on a specific area. The radiologist may also recommend tomosynthesis, a new technology that provides 3-D imaging of the breast. Tomosynthesis is available at St. Patrick Hospital in Missoula.
After additional views are collected, a breast biopsy may be recommended. Breast biopsies are performed with a core needle using mammogram, ultrasound or tomosynthesis. These biopsies are performed as an outpatient procedure with local anesthetic. You will be called with the results within three working days. Depending on the results of the biopsy, you may need close follow-up, a surgical biopsy or additional treatment for breast cancer. A nurse navigator will assist you through the process and help answer all your questions.
Ultrasound-guided (stereotactic), breast biopsies are available at St. Joseph Medical Center. Ultrasound- and tomosynthesis-guided biopsies are performed at St. Patrick Hospital in Missoula.
If you receive a breast cancer diagnosis, a team of compassionate cancer specialists will work together to give you with the most up-to-date and timely treatments. This team of surgeons, oncologists (cancer doctors), radiation oncologists, pathologists (disease specialists) and radiologists will collaborate to determine the gentlest, most effective course of treatment.
Surgery to remove the cancer and check the lymph nodes in the arm pit (axilla) is often the first step in treatment. The oncologist will determine if you need chemotherapy, and the radiation oncologist will recommend radiation treatments if necessary.
Breast cancer treatment is available St. Joseph Medical Center and St. Patrick Hospital with general surgeons who specializes in advanced surgical treatment for breast cancer. Surgical options for breast cancer include breast conservation surgery with a lumpectomy or a mastectomy. We also check one lymph node in the arm pit (a sentinel lymph node biopsy). Your general and breast surgeons are members of the American Society of Breast Surgeons and stay current with the latest surgical treatments.
Breast cancer affects one in eight women in the U.S. Your individual risk may be higher or lower depending on certain factors. If you have a primary relative (mother or sisters) who have had breast cancer, your risk increases by two to three times. If you have a more distant relative with breast cancer (cousins, aunts, grandmother), your risk is about 1.5 times higher.
Maintaining a healthy weight may lower your risk, while some hormone replacements (e.g., Premarin) have been shown to increase the risk of developing breast cancer. The National Cancer Institute has an online risk calculator that you can use to assess your personal risk of developing breast cancer. If you are concerned about your risk, please discuss it with your primary care provider or Dr. Hape.