Mammogram Callback
15 Feb

Mammography News: The Case for Annual Screening Mammograms Starting at 40

While the recommendations for screening mammography vary among organizations, a plethora of research supports annual breast cancer screening starting at 40 years old. Currently, the American College of Radiology (ACR) and the Society of Breast Imaging (SBI) recommend annual screening beginning at 40 years old. The American Cancer Society and the US Preventative Services Task Force (USPSTF) support giving women the option to start annual mammograms at 40, but differ on guidelines for annual/biennial screening recommendations.

Research on the benefits of annual screening mammography beginning at age 40 (from the ACR’s mammography website):

  • National Cancer Institute data shows that breast cancer death rates have dropped nearly 40 percent since the advancement of mammography in the 1980’s.
  • The largest (Hellquist et al) and longest running (Tabar et al) breast cancer screening studies in history demonstrated that regular breast cancer screening reduced breast cancer deaths by approximately one-third in all women ages 40 and older.
  • Research published in Cancer indicated that women who died in their 40’s from breast cancer were among the 20 percent who did not have annual screening mammograms.
  • An analysis in the American Journal of Roentgenology found that approximately 6500 more women would die from breast cancer each year if the US Preventative Services Task Force guidelines for screening mammography starting at 50 years old were followed.

Additionally, the ACR and SBI are the first to recognize that African-American women have a higher breast cancer risk than other groups, and should be screened accordingly. The ACR and SBI now recommend that all women undergo risk assessments at age 30 to determine whether or not they should begin screening mammography before their 40th birthday.

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30 Jan

3D Mammography “Made More Comfortable”: Bergen Imaging Center Installs Ergonomic Senographe Pristina* by GE Healthcare

3D Mammography “Made More Comfortable”: Bergen Imaging Center Installs Ergonomic Senographe Pristina* by GE Healthcare

Mammograms save lives, but they also cause discomfort. New research by Evans, et al., suggests that painful mammograms may explain why 25 to 46 percent of women do not return for further breast imaging. The study concluded that in order to increase participation rates pain-reducing interventions in mammography are needed.

At Bergen Imaging Center we know that an uncomfortable, squirming patient can compromise image quality, leading to anxiety-inducing callbacks. That’s why we have partnered with GE Healthcare to “make (3D) mammography more comfortable” for our patients with the new Senographe Pristina.

The lifesaving technology has transformed breast tomosynthesis to include ergonomic features designed for maximum comfort—all parts of the equipment in contact with the patients’ breasts have gentle, rounded corners; elegant lighting eases anxiety; and soft armrests have replaced traditional hand grips.

“No woman should miss out on the potentially life-saving benefits of regular mammograms out of fear or anxiety of discomfort. Engineered by a team of women for women, GE Healthcare has transformed mammography…,” said Agnes Berzsenyi, President and CEO of GE Healthcare Women’s Health.

“Senographe Pristina was designed with empathy. It humanizes the mammography experience by increasing comfort and reducing patient anxiety. The system’s potential to help increase the number of annual screening exams is a critical advancement in women’s healthcare,” he said.

Senographe Pristina, which was approved by the FDA in September of 2017, is the only approved digital breast tomosynthesis (DBT) system that delivers the same low dose as a 2D view without compromising image quality. The Pristina emits the lowest dose of all FDA approved 3D mammography devices on the market today.

* Senographe Pristina is a trademark of General Electric Company

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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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