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HomeNewsArchives'ASK THE CIS' -- ABOUT BREAST CANCER, MAMMOGRAMS

'ASK THE CIS' — ABOUT BREAST CANCER, MAMMOGRAMS

Nov. 4, 2001 – "Ask the CIS," a locally produced Cancer Information Service health column, is featuring questions and answers this time about breast cancer and mammograms.
Getting the facts about breast cancer and mammograms is an important step in taking care of your health. Simply being a woman and getting older puts you at risk for breast cancer. Several known factors can further increase your risk for breast cancer. However, studies show that most women who develop breast cancer have none of the risk factors listed below — which is why mammograms are so important.
What are the factors that place a woman at increased risk for breast cancer?
– Personal history: Women who have had breast cancer are more likely to develop a second breast cancer.
– Family history: The risk of getting breast cancer increases for a woman whose mother, sister or daughter has had the disease; or who has two or more close relatives, such as cousins or aunts, with a history of breast cancer, especially if diagnosed before age 40. About 5 percent of women with breast cancer have a hereditary form of this disease.
– Genetic alterations: Specific alterations in certain genes, such as those in the breast cancer genes BRCA1 or BRCA2, make women more susceptible to breast cancer.
– Abnormal biopsy: Women with certain abnormal breast conditions, such as atypical hyperplasia or LCIS (lobular carcinoma in situ), are at increased risk.
– Other conditions: Women age 45 or older who have at least 75 percent dense tissue on a mammogram. (Tumors in dense breasts are more difficult to "see" and, in older women, dense breast tissue itself is a risk factor.)
– Women who received chest irradiation for conditions such as Hodgkins disease at age 30 or younger. They remain at risk throughout their lives and should have regular monitoring.
– A woman who bears her first child at age 30 or older.
In addition, recent evidence suggests that menopausal women who have long-term exposure (greater than 10 years) to hormone replacement therapy (HRT) may have a slightly increased risk of breast cancer.
What is the position of the National Cancer Institute on screening mammograms?
The NCI recommends that all women age 40 or older get screening mammograms every one to two years. Women at increased risk for breast cancer should seek medical advice about when to begin having regular mammograms and how often to be screened.
What is the best method of detecting breast cancer as early as possible?
A high-quality mammogram together with a clinical breast exam (an exam done by a professional health care provider) is the most effective way to detect breast cancer early. A mammogram can detect breast cancer that cannot be felt.
What is a screening mammogram?
A screening mammogram is an X-ray procedure to detect breast changes in women who have no signs of breast cancer. It usually involves two X-rays of each breast.
What is a diagnostic mammogram?
A diagnostic mammogram is an X-ray of the breast used to diagnose unusual breast changes, such as a lump, pain, nipple thickening or discharge, or a change in breast size or shape. A diagnostic mammogram also is used to detect abnormalities detected on a screening mammogram.
Where can a woman get a high-quality mammogram?
Women can get high-quality mammograms in breast clinics, radiology departments of hospitals, mobile vans, private radiology offices, and doctors' offices. Through the Mammography Quality Standards Act, all mammography facilities are required to display Food and Drug Administration certification. To be certified, facilities must meet standards for the equipment used, the staff, and the records kept.
Information about local FDA-certified mammography facilities is available through the Cancer Information Service. Call the CIS at 1-800-4-CANCER (1-800-422-6237), or visit the National Cancer Institute web site.
The CIS toll-free phone line hours of operation are 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. The service is free, and all calls are confidential.
Organizations interested in cancer awareness and education outreach are asked to call Carthy Thomas, Partnership Program coordinator, at 774-9000, ext. 4707.

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Nov. 4, 2001 - "Ask the CIS," a locally produced Cancer Information Service health column, is featuring questions and answers this time about breast cancer and mammograms.
Getting the facts about breast cancer and mammograms is an important step in taking care of your health. Simply being a woman and getting older puts you at risk for breast cancer. Several known factors can further increase your risk for breast cancer. However, studies show that most women who develop breast cancer have none of the risk factors listed below -- which is why mammograms are so important.
What are the factors that place a woman at increased risk for breast cancer?
- Personal history: Women who have had breast cancer are more likely to develop a second breast cancer.
- Family history: The risk of getting breast cancer increases for a woman whose mother, sister or daughter has had the disease; or who has two or more close relatives, such as cousins or aunts, with a history of breast cancer, especially if diagnosed before age 40. About 5 percent of women with breast cancer have a hereditary form of this disease.
- Genetic alterations: Specific alterations in certain genes, such as those in the breast cancer genes BRCA1 or BRCA2, make women more susceptible to breast cancer.
- Abnormal biopsy: Women with certain abnormal breast conditions, such as atypical hyperplasia or LCIS (lobular carcinoma in situ), are at increased risk.
- Other conditions: Women age 45 or older who have at least 75 percent dense tissue on a mammogram. (Tumors in dense breasts are more difficult to "see" and, in older women, dense breast tissue itself is a risk factor.)
- Women who received chest irradiation for conditions such as Hodgkins disease at age 30 or younger. They remain at risk throughout their lives and should have regular monitoring.
- A woman who bears her first child at age 30 or older.
In addition, recent evidence suggests that menopausal women who have long-term exposure (greater than 10 years) to hormone replacement therapy (HRT) may have a slightly increased risk of breast cancer.
What is the position of the National Cancer Institute on screening mammograms?
The NCI recommends that all women age 40 or older get screening mammograms every one to two years. Women at increased risk for breast cancer should seek medical advice about when to begin having regular mammograms and how often to be screened.
What is the best method of detecting breast cancer as early as possible?
A high-quality mammogram together with a clinical breast exam (an exam done by a professional health care provider) is the most effective way to detect breast cancer early. A mammogram can detect breast cancer that cannot be felt.
What is a screening mammogram?
A screening mammogram is an X-ray procedure to detect breast changes in women who have no signs of breast cancer. It usually involves two X-rays of each breast.
What is a diagnostic mammogram?
A diagnostic mammogram is an X-ray of the breast used to diagnose unusual breast changes, such as a lump, pain, nipple thickening or discharge, or a change in breast size or shape. A diagnostic mammogram also is used to detect abnormalities detected on a screening mammogram.
Where can a woman get a high-quality mammogram?
Women can get high-quality mammograms in breast clinics, radiology departments of hospitals, mobile vans, private radiology offices, and doctors' offices. Through the Mammography Quality Standards Act, all mammography facilities are required to display Food and Drug Administration certification. To be certified, facilities must meet standards for the equipment used, the staff, and the records kept.
Information about local FDA-certified mammography facilities is available through the Cancer Information Service. Call the CIS at 1-800-4-CANCER (1-800-422-6237), or visit the National Cancer Institute web site.
The CIS toll-free phone line hours of operation are 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. The service is free, and all calls are confidential.
Organizations interested in cancer awareness and education outreach are asked to call Carthy Thomas, Partnership Program coordinator, at 774-9000, ext. 4707.