Information About Breast Cancer

All cancers gets their name from the part of the body where the abnormal cells begin to develop. Breast cancer occurs when cells become abnormal and divide without order in the breast tissue of women, and in rare cases, men.

While it is not known what causes breast cancer, certain risk factors have been linked to the disease. A risk factor is anything that increases a person’s chance of getting a particular type of cancer. Some risk factors can be controlled (e.g., smoking) and others (e.g.,age, family history) cannot be changed. Being a woman is the main risk factor for breast cancer however, other factors such as environmental exposure and diet can also play a part.

The most common sign of breast cancer is a new lump in the breast that is painless, hard, and has irregular edges.

Some other signs or symptoms of breast cancer include:

•              swelling of a part of the breast

•              skin irritation or dimpling of the skin on the breast

•              nipple pain or scaliness of the nipple or breast skin

•              a nipple discharge that is other than breast milk

•              a lump in the underarm area

At this time, there is no known way to prevent breast cancer. However, some preventative measures such as reducing controllable risk factors and implementing early detection methods can increase your survival rate in the event of a cancer diagnoses. Reducing your incidence of risk where possible and following guidelines for self-examination and early detection are the best course of preventative action. Early detection improves the likelihood of successful treatment and saves thousands of lives each year. Each month, it is advised that women perform breast self-exams. Early detection screening exams often find cancers before they start to cause symptoms, while they are small and still confined to the breast. Between the ages of 20 and 39, women should have a clinical breast exam every year if they are in a high-risk group or every three years if they are not. From the age of 40, women should have a mammogram screening every year.

If breast cancer is suspected in a patient, a biopsy of the cells from the breast is performed, removing cells so that they can be examined. Cancer treatment includes surgical procedures such as lumpectomy, mastectomy, and non-surgical therapies such as chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and hormone therapy. If you have been given a cancer diagnosis, don’t be afraid to seek the second opinion of a breast cancer specialist for more information and treatment options.

What To Expect and How To Prepare for Your Mammogram

mammogram-516258564Your doctor may have recommended scheduling a mammogram as part of your annual exam or to further examine symptoms you may be experiencing that are relative to cancer. Whatever the reason may be for testing, mammograms can be extremely stressful for many women.

Although the anxiety leading up to the day of your mammogram may be overwhelming it is important not to put off testing.  A mammogram is very effective in the early detection of breast cancer and saves lives.

Knowing what to expect can alleviate some of the anxiety and stress that may occur before and during the process.  Here are few tips to help guide you through the process and make your experience more comfortable:

  1. Preparing for your mammogram. Scheduling your mammogram a week after menstruation is often recommended by physicians because your breasts will be less tender and swollen. It is also recommended that you do not wear deodorants, antiperspirants, lotions, powders or ointments on your chest area because they may show up as abnormalities in your X-rays. Come prepared to remove all garments and jewelry on your upper body. If you have any concerns or symptoms you would like to discuss do not hesitate to do so before the examination. Most importantly, make certain that the facility is accredited by the American College of Radiology and specializes in breast imaging.
  2. The duration of your mammogram. A mammogram typically takes 20 -30 minutes to complete. Times may vary if you have larger breasts, denser breasts or implants. During this time a mammogram technologist will position your breasts on the X-ray machine and compress them each for a few seconds. You may experience some discomfort or pain. Technologists are trained to ensure your privacy and to do their best to make you as comfortable as possible. If the degree of pain is too much, please inform the technologist.
  3. After the test. After images are taken of your breast, their quality will be checked by a technician. If they are not up to standard the technologist will have to re-issue the mammogram. Otherwise, your radiologist will review and interpret the images. The radiologist will look for evidence of cancerous or benign tissues and send a report to your doctor.

If suspicious findings or abnormalities are found in your mammogram, the radiologist or your doctor may recommend another mammogram or breast ultrasound to further investigate their findings.

Jamaica Hospital’s Radiology Department offers a wide variety of state-of-the-art diagnostic and specialty services performed by over 16 board-certified and subspecialty trained radiologists, along with several highly trained and experienced technologists.

With several upgrades and improvements to the department, our patients can now undergo their testing in a new and more comfortable environment. Services offered by the Radiology Department include ultrasound, mammography and MRI.

For more information about the radiology services offered by the hospital or to schedule an appointment, please call the Department of Radiology at 718-206-6039.