15 Jan

Debunking Mammography Misinformation: Risks & Benefits of Mammograms – Part 2

The benefits of mammography almost always outweigh the risks. In part two of our ‘Debunking Mammography Misinformation’ series, the radiologists weigh in.

Q: My doctor said I have dense breasts, will this increase my risk of getting breast cancer?

A: Having dense breasts may increase your risk for breast cancer. Dense breasts also make it harder to spot cancer on mammograms. Dense tissue appears white on mammograms, but so do cancers and other lumps. This means that mammography results may be less accurate in women with dense breasts. Debra Monticello, MD Radiologist


Q: I’ve heard that screening mammography contributes to overdiagnosis. What does that mean?

A: It’s when a test, such as a screening mammogram, finds a cancer that would not kill you before something else does. Only a few percent of cancers would fit this description, and medical science cannot yet tell which cancers will advance to kill and which won’t. The only way to know is to not treat the cancer and see what happens. Invasive breast cancers don’t go away or get smaller if left untreated. It’s only a matter of time before these cancers kill. –Nicole Saphier, MD Radiologist


Verdict: This year, more than 250,000 women will be diagnosed with invasive breast cancer, and at least 40,000 women will die from the disease. If not for life-saving mammography, tens of thousands more women would die. The relatively small risks associated with mammograms don’t even come close to outweighing the benefits. Mammograms continue to save lives.

*Adapted from the video “Balancing Mammography Benefit vs. Risk”, on the ACR’s Mammography Saves Lives YouTube playlist.


Related article: Debunking Mammography Misinformation: Risks & Benefits of Mammograms – Part 1

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15 Dec

Debunking Mammography Misinformation: Risks & Benefits of Mammograms – Part 1

Honest answers from radiologists on the risks and benefits of mammography.

Q: Does getting a mammogram every year really help?

A: Regular mammography use has reduced breast cancer by nearly 40 percent since screening began in the mid 1980’s. But it’s more than that. Mammograms find tumors when they are small, before you can feel them, and when they can be better treated. This gives women a better chance for less surgery, less toxic chemotherapy, and less radiation treatment. – Debra Monticello, MD Radiologist


Q: Are there any risks to mammography?

A: Mammograms don’t find all cancers, and they do find things that turn out not to be cancer. Some women who get a mammogram will be asked to come back for another test to confirm or rule out that something is wrong. If those results rule out cancer, some people call the first results a false positive. – Debra Monticello, MD Radiologist

Mammography Math: For every 100 women who get a mammogram, 10 will be asked to come back for a closer look. Of those 10, two will be referred to have a needle biopsy. Fewer than one in every 100 women screened will be diagnosed with breast cancer.


Q: Every time I have a mammogram, I have such anxiety waiting for my results.

A: This is normal and will pass without lasting effects. The possibility of a cancer that kills thousands of people every year is of greater concern. Especially when breast cancer that is caught early can be effectively treated. –Katherine Hall, MD Radiologist

* Adapted from the video “Balancing Mammography Benefit vs. Risk”, on the ACR’s Mammography Saves Lives YouTube playlist.


Read more: Debunking Mammography Misinformation: Risks & Benefits of Mammograms – Part 2

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15 Nov

Life After Breast Cancer Awareness Month: Take Action Every Day to Lower Your Risk

Just because Breast Cancer Awareness Month 2018 is over doesn’t mean that active awareness should end. Before BCAM, we acknowledged that passive ‘awareness’ – such as retweeting a breast cancer statistic – doesn’t do much to help the cause  – but active awareness, like participating in a breast cancer walk or making a healthy change in our diet, does.

We encouraged you to indulge in mindful moments every day during BCAM, and

we hope you integrate those new positive habits into your life on a regular basis.

Here are some additional mindful actions you can take to lower your risk for developing breast cancer:

Know your normal –  While monthly breast self-exams are no longer recommended, it’s still important to check in with yourself, and make sure everything is ‘normal’.  If you find bumps, lumps,  or sore spots – on or near your breasts  – or experience abnormal nipple discharge, make sure to discuss it with your doctor.

Make time for movement – A sedentary lifestyle is associated with a higher risk for breast cancer and other diseases. Challenge yourself to do some form of exercise in 10 minute increments, two to three times a day, to establish a routine. Before you know it, working out will become the best habit you ever picked up. 

Plan for your mammogram –   Whether you and your doctor decide to start screening mammograms at age 45 – as recommended by the American Cancer Society – or at age 50 – as recommended by the American College of Radiology – pick and stick with it. Mammograms save lives by catching breast cancer in its earliest stages.

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01 Oct

Breast Cancer Awareness Month: A Mindful Approach to Breast Health

This Breast Cancer Awareness Month, take time out to love and celebrate your breasts by living mindfully.  Instead of focusing on negative breast cancer statistics, focus only on the factors you can control right now.   

Eat the rainbow – And we don’t mean Skittles! A diet high in fruits and veggies (5.5 servings per day) has been shown to lower breast cancer risk by as much as 11 percent. But instead of trying to overhaul your entire diet in a day, why not start with your next meal during Breast Cancer Awareness Month?  Since cruciferous vegetables – like broccoli and Brussels sprouts, as well as orange and yellow veggies, are most strongly associated with a lower risk, start there. Take time to savor each bite, while reflecting on the flavor and health benefits.

Move mindfully – Research shows that exercise lowers your risk. We know that finding the time – and motivation – to work out can feel like an uphill battle, but changing your mindset can help you to get moving.  Exercise is one of the few things in life that is 100 percent about you. Instead of dreading it, think about it as ‘me’ time – and focus on how good it feels to honor your body and put yourself first.

Meditate – Studies suggest that meditation helps breast cancer survivors cope with post-treatment symptoms like anxiety and depression. While we can’t say that meditation lowers breast cancer risk, we do know that a healthy body begins in the mind.  During  Breast Cancer Awareness Month aim to meditate for ten minutes every day.

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15 Sep

Beyond the Pink: Make Breast Cancer Awareness Month Meaningful (Again)

While the idea behind breast cancer awareness month (October 2018) is to support and remember those who have battled, or been affected by the devastating disease, the sentiment often gets buried beneath an avalanche of  pink ribbons.

An estimated 266,120 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in 2018 – 40,920 – or over 15 percent will not survive.  The problem with these statistics is that they are just numbers. They don’t have names, faces, or voices to show us what they’ve been through. Cold hard breast cancer facts reduce the individual experience of every victim to nothing but numbers, and make us forget what we’re supposed to remember.

To conceptualize 40,920 people – imagine two Madison Square Gardens filled to capacity.  That’s how many women will die from breast cancer just this year. That means something.

We get so caught up in mindlessly ‘spreading awareness’ – wearing pink or retweeting the same breast cancer  meme for the millionth time – that we don’t stop and think about what any of it means.  We don’t think about the lives of the 266,120 women who will be diagnosed with breast cancer this year – or how any of us – or our loved ones – could be one of them.

This year, instead of passive breast cancer awareness, take action in October.  Assess your risk for the disease. Schedule a screening mammogram at Bergen Imaging Center. Participate in a breast cancer walk to raise money for research, and lower your own risk (through exercise) at the same time. 

Whatever you do for Breast Cancer Awareness Month 2018 – make it meaningful.   Don’t just “think pink” – do something.

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15 Aug

Eating These Vegetables May Lower Your Breast Cancer Risk

Breast cancer research indicates that a healthy diet – rich in fruits and vegetables, whole grains, chicken, and fish – likely reduces breast cancer risk, while a diet high in fat and processed foods may increase the risk.

However, most studies examine broad dietary patterns without focusing on one specific type of food. It is often unclear what impact a ‘healthy’ diet has on breast cancer recurrence in women who had previously received a breast cancer diagnosis. Is diet directly related to recurrence rates? Or do the other benefits of healthy eating – such as weight loss – play a more significant role?

In a recent study published in the International Journal of Cancer, a team of researchers from the Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health in Boston, MA conducted a long-term investigation into the relationship between fruit and vegetable consumption, and breast cancer risk.

The findings suggested not only that a diet rich in fruits and vegetables was associated with a lower risk of developing breast cancer and aggressive tumors

– but what kinds of vegetables, and how many servings of them can potentially offset the risk of developing the disease.

The team of scientists found that eating 5.5 servings of fruits and vegetables per day– as opposed to 2.5 servings or less– was associated with an 11 percent decrease in breast cancer risk. The researchers also found that cruciferous vegetables – such as broccoli and Brussels sprouts – as well as yellow/orange vegetables – such as carrots and yams – were most strongly associated with a reduction in risk for breast cancer, especially those that are more likely to be an aggressive tumor.

“Although prior studies have suggested an association, they have been limited in power, particularly for specific fruits and vegetables and aggressive subtypes of breast cancer,” said first author Maryam Farvid,  “This research provides the most complete picture of the importance of consuming high amounts of fruit and vegetables for breast cancer prevention.”







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3D Mammography Services
20 Jul

“Should I upgrade to a 3D Mammogram at My Next Appointment?”

Find out if 3D mammograms are right for you.

Every year, nearly 41,000 women die from breast cancer. It’s the second leading cause of cancer death in women, behind lung cancer. While we still don’t know how to prevent it, we do know that early detection saves lives.  That’s why screening mammograms are so important.

Certainly, a traditional mammogram is better than no mammogram at all. But research indicates that 3D Mammograms – also known as tomosynthesis, or tomo – are both more accurate, and better at detecting dangerous cancers than 2D digital  mammograms. 

Traditional mammography is also associated with more ‘false alarms’, resulting in a higher callback rate for patients. This causes undue stress and anxiety in the patient, and increases healthcare costs by necessitating follow-up tests.

3D mammograms reduce recall rates by up to 40 percent  – meaning that patients can trust the results.

For women with dense breasts – and a higher risk for breast cancer –  tomosynthesis is a potential life saver.  While 2D mammograms produce ‘flat’ images, 3D mammograms can ‘see through’ even dense breast tissue, detecting irregularities that would be obscured on traditional mammography. These 3D images are similar to pages in a book, and allow radiologists to more closely examine each layer of breast tissue.

Current research also indicates that 3D mammograms may detect cancer earlier than 2D mammography.

With so many advantages , why would a patient choose not to have a 3D mammogram?  Unfortunately, the biggest drawback associated with tomo is cost.  Not all insurance plans cover 3D mammograms for breast cancer screening, so if you have to pay out of pocket, it can get expensive.

If cost is not a factor in your decision, then it’s definitely worth it to upgrade to 3D mammography. That said, never opt out of a getting a mammogram just because you can’t afford tomosynthesis. Mammograms save lives – period.

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20 Jun

Breast Cancer Diagnosis, NJ:  Breast Cancer Survivors May Be Skipping Out on Mammograms

A recent study suggests that breast cancer survivors aren’t getting regular follow-up mammograms – even when their insurance covers the procedure.

Most doctors recommend that women undergo frequent mammograms after surviving a breast cancer diagnosis in order to detect disease recurrence, and catch it in its earliest stages. However, a recent study published in the May issue of the Journal of the National Comprehensive Cancer Network, suggests that many breast cancer survivors are not keeping up with their mammograms.

In the retroactive study, Dr. Kathryn Ruddy from the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN, found that the further survivors were from their breast cancer diagnosis, the less likely they were to undergo mammograms – even when they had health insurance.

Dr. Ruddy followed 27,212 breast cancer patients for a median of 2.9 years after definitive breast cancer surgery. One year after treatment, 13 percent of cohorts  had not followed up with any kind of imaging after surgery. By the 5th year, the

proportion of the remaining cohort (4790) who had no breast imaging was 19 percent. Dr. Ruddy also found that black women previously diagnosed with breast cancer were less likely than white women to follow their doctors’ mammography recommendations.

There was one common denominator among the women in the study: they all had health insurance.

As a retroactive study based on administrative health insurance claims, Dr. Ruddy’s work has a number of limitations – but it raises important questions. The most pertinent being: what are the reasons that an insured breast cancer survivor wouldn’t follow up on mammograms when the non-invasive procedure could literally save her life?

At Bergen Imaging Center we believe in educating all women—especially those who have had a breast cancer diagnosis in NJ—about the importance of mammograms. Mammograms save lives, but only if you show up for the appointment.

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Breast Cancer Diagnosis NJ
15 May

Breast Cancer Diagnosis NJ: What are the Warning Signs?

By staying on top of your breast health, and going in for regular mammograms, you can potentially avoid a late stage breast cancer diagnosis. As we all know—mammograms save lives by detecting breast cancer in its earliest stages—when it’s still treatable.

While monthly breast self-exams are no longer recommended as a screening tool for breast cancer, it’s important to know what is normal for your body – and when to call the doctor.

Breast Cancer Diagnosis NJ: Signs and Symptoms

Lumps and Bumps: More than 80 percent of the time a lump will not result in a breast cancer diagnosis. But if it doesn’t go away, or it’s located under your armpit, you should discuss it with your doctor.

Sore and Tender Breasts: It’s normal for breasts to change over the course of your life. Birth control pills, hormones, periods, menopause and having large breasts can also cause soreness. However, if the pain gets worse, is only in one area of your chest, or prevents you from going about your regular routine, let your doctor know.

Nipple discharge: It’s completely normal for breasts to leak milk for up to two years after you stop nursing. Menopausal women may also notice a milky-white discharge. But if the discharge is green, bloody, or clear, then check with your doctor as it could be a sign of breast cancer.

Changes in Size or Shape of Breasts: Breast changes caused by periods, pregnancy, menopause, and weight gain or weight loss are completely normal, and usually don’t indicate a breast cancer diagnosis. But if you notice changes outside of these time periods, schedule an appointment with your doctor.

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Breast Cancer Diagnosis NJ
10 Apr

Breast Cancer Diagnosis NJ: How is breast cancer diagnosed?

Breast cancer is the most frequently diagnosed type of cancer, and second leading cause of cancer death among women in New Jersey. As scary as that sounds, know that a breast cancer diagnosis isn’t a death sentence – especially if it’s caught early.

That’s why staying on top of screening mammograms is so important. Research suggests that mammograms may lower breast cancer mortality rates by as much as 40 percent.

Suspect a breast cancer diagnosis, NJ residents? Schedule your mammogram today.

It is also important to know what’s normal for your body, and to report any changes to your doctor. While lumps can be a sign of breast cancer, in most cases they are harmless. Generally, if your doctor suspects anything, she will order a mammogram to more closely examine the tissue via x-ray. If the mammogram is abnormal, she may recommend a biopsy. The good news is that 80 percent of women who have a biopsy do not end up with a breast cancer diagnosis.

For women who are diagnosed with breast cancer, the prognosis is generally good when it is found early. In fact, if cancer is only found in one breast, and hasn’t spread, the five-year survival rate is 99 percent. Even when it has spread to regional lymph nodes, the five-year survival rate is 85 percent.

Although we still don’t know what causes breast cancer, researchers have identified a number of controllable risk factors—including smoking and obesity—that increase a woman’s risk of receiving a breast cancer diagnosis. Leading a healthy lifestyle and staying on top of your breast health may significantly minimize your risk of developing the disease.

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