Breast Cancer Smarts

Live Health Topics:

Early Detection Is Key

More than 200,000 American women will be diagnosed with breast cancer this year. Medical experts agree that early detection is the key to combating this disease.

Currently, there is no way to prevent breast cancer. However, when detected early and treated expertly, there is a greater than 95 percent survival rate. Early on, most breast cancers cause no symptoms. It is at this stage when breast cancer is most curable. That’s why getting regular yearly mammograms is so important to a woman’s health. The American Cancer Society recommends that women age 40 and older have a mammogram every year. Most patients diagnosed with breast cancer have no family history—so all women are at risk.

“Mammography provides detailed images of the breast in order to find malignant growths when they’re small and therefore curable,” notes Lauralyn Markle M.D., medical director and breast specialist at Saddleback Memorial. “Approximately 90 percent of cancers can be found by mammography in the hands of experts.”

Breast Cancer Screening Recommendations

  • Ages 21-29  Doctor’s breast exam - Every three years
  • Ages 30-39  Doctor’s breast exam - Every three years
  • Ages 40-49  Doctor’s breast exam - Every year; Mammogram - Annually
  • Ages 50-Up  Doctor’s breast exam - Every year; Mammogram - Annually

At a MemorialCare Breast Center each mammogram is read by a physician who is a breast specialist and reviewed by a computer-aided detection device. Breast ultrasounds are performed and interpreted by physicians. The result is an increase in the number of early breast cancers detected. Minimally invasive biopsies eliminate the need for conventional surgery to diagnose malignant tumors and confirm benign conditions.

Every newly diagnosed breast cancer patient receives consultation and education, enabling her to understand treatment options and participate fully in her therapy. Additionally, a team of expert breast physicians participates in a weekly pre-treatment planning conference in order to provide patients with the best possible care.

Genetic counseling services are also available to patients with a family history of breast cancer. A genetic counselor analyzes family cancer patterns and environmental influences to help patients decide if genetic testing is appropriate.