Breast Exams and Mammograms to Monitor Your Breast Health
Breast self-examination is the first line of defense for any woman against breast cancer. Performed monthly, these breast self-examinations are key in discovering those lumps and bumps that could signal a serious problem such as breast cancer. Of course, your gynecologist will conduct an in-office breast examination at your annual checkup, and will review breast self-exams with you to make sure you know how to do one for yourself properly.
In addition to manual breast exams, mammograms provide the true inside look into what’s happening in the breast tissue and will help diagnose problems that are detected or detect imminent problems that are not yet visible on the surface. We recommend mammography once a year for all women beginning at age 40. In certain situations we may advise you to start getting mammograms at an earlier age. Once the results of your mammogram are in we will review the mammogram report with you personally.
Additional Breast Tests and Studies
Sometimes additional testing may be warranted if something shows up on a breast exam or on a routine mammogram; if this is the case we always discuss the specific test and explain why we are recommending it for you. As with any testing or procedures done outside our office, our staff will help you get them scheduled promptly and go over any related insurance issues. These tests — or studies, as they are called — might include:
- A repeat digital mammogram with magnification views
- A breast ultrasound
- An MRI of the breast
- An lab evaluation of nipple discharge
If a specific question or concern arises on a breast exam or in a test result, we recommend you consult with a breast surgeon and can refer you to qualified specialists in the area. We might also recommend a consultation with a geneticist in cases with a hereditary or genetic risk of cancer, to determine your risk level.
As you may know, it is possible to identify certain genes (BRCA genes and others) which may be responsible for a woman’s heightened risk of breast or other cancer by blood testing. We can draw these labs in our office for you or refer you to an outside lab for blood work. Of course, as with any tests or consultations, our staff will help arrange these appointments for you if needed.
Once your lab results are in will meet with you to review them and discuss specific recommendations for maintaining your good health or next steps to take.