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20 Jun
0

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
0

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
0

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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19 Mar
0

Endometriosis Awareness Month: Endometriosis at a Glance

March is Endometriosis Awareness Month, but chances are you weren’t aware! Unlike breast cancer, public awareness of endometriosis is relatively low – yet one out of every ten women of reproductive age is affected by it, and it’s a leading cause of infertility worldwide.

While the disease itself isn’t deadly, complications from endometriosis can be devastating. Approximately 30 to 50 percent of all women who suffer from it become infertile. Additionally, research indicates that ovarian cancer may occur at higher rates in women with endometriosis – though it is not conclusive.

Endometriosis Awareness: Fast Facts

What is Endometriosis?

Endometriosis is a condition in which endometrial tissue (similar to the uterine lining)—grows outside of the uterus on other pelvic organs—leading to inflammation, swelling, and even the creation of scar tissue. The displaced tissue sheds every month during the menstrual cycle. Symptoms generally develop a few years after the onset of menstruation.

Symptoms of Endometriosis

Symptoms of endometriosis include:
– Painful periods
– Painful ovulation
– Painful intercourse
– Long, heavy, painful menstrual periods
– Bleeding between periods
– Painful urination and bowel movements
– Infertility
– Other symptoms: fatigue, diarrhea, constipation, bloating or nausea
– No symptoms at all

Endometriosis often goes undiagnosed because symptoms mimic other diseases, or are simply dismissed as premenstrual syndrome (PMS). Sometimes there are no signs at all. If you experience any of the above symptoms, or if someone in your family has endometriosis, make sure to talk to your doctor.

Causes of Endometriosis

While there are no known causes of endometriosis, some evidence suggests that it may be hereditary.

Treatment for Endometriosis

While there is no cure for endometriosis, treatments can make the disease manageable, and lessen pain. Treatment options can include pain medications, hormonal medications (such as contraceptives), and/or surgery.

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15 Feb
0

Breast Biopsy Preference May be Linked to Overestimation of Breast Cancer Risk

According to a recent survey study by Dr. Lars Grimm of Duke University School of Medicine, some women prefer an immediate breast biopsy to follow-up imaging.

The findings suggest that women who believe there’s any chance that they have breast cancer are more comfortable with an immediate biopsy – a preference Dr. Grimm believes may be linked to an overestimation of their breast cancer risk.

Dr. Grimm and his team of researchers examined women’s perceptions of their own breast cancer risk, their threshold for choosing a breast biopsy, and their anxiety levels using the State-Trait Anxiety Inventory (STAI).

Participants were asked for responses to two hypothetical scenarios:

  • A radiologist recommending short-term follow-up imaging six months after the initial exam
  • A radiologist recommending an immediate breast biopsy, with the acknowledgement that there was a low risk of malignancy

Women with high baseline anxiety levels estimated their breast cancer risk to be 27 percent more than twice the average woman’s risk of 12.4 percent. In the first scenario, participants estimated their risk at 33 percent; and just 46 percent of those women were willing to wait for hypothetical follow-up imaging. However, when an immediate biopsy was recommended, women estimated their risk at 46 percent; and 66 percent said they preferred a breast biopsy if there was any chance at all of breast cancer.

“For a select group of patients, especially those women with high baseline anxiety and a personal history of breast cancer, a recommendation for biopsy instead of short-term follow-up may lead to less regret and more relief,” Dr. Grimm said in an interview with AuntMinnie.Com.

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22 Jan
0

Is 3D Mammography Really Better Than 2D?

The purported benefits of 3D mammography include everything from higher breast cancer detection rates to lower patient recall rates. But in a hype driven world, is the technology behind digital breast tomosynthesis (DBT) really superior to traditional mammography?

Benefits of 3D Mammography

While 2D mammograms produce ‘flat’ images, 3D mammograms can ‘see through’ even dense breast tissue, providing a more detailed look at what’s inside. These 3D images are similar to pages in a book, and allow radiologists to closely examine each layer of breast tissue for abnormalities. In traditional mammograms, breast tissue often overlaps, resulting in hard to read images and higher recall rates.

The false alarms associated with 2D mammography create unnecessary stress and anxiety for patients, and increase healthcare costs.

3D mammography not only reduces recall rates by up to 40 percent, it can also help improve the accuracy of biopsy recommendations.

Current research indicates that tomosynthesis finds more cancers than its 2D counterpart, and may detect breast cancer earlier than traditional mammography as well.

Disadvantages of 3D Mammography

DBT is often combined with digital mammography, potentially increasing radiation exposure. At Bergen Imaging Center we use GE Healthcare’s Senoclaire technology, which uses low dose radiation—similar to the amount in a traditional mammogram.

Probably the biggest drawback associated with 3D mammography is cost. The equipment is more expensive, and it takes longer to interpret images.

That said, preliminary findings presented by researchers from Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, during the 2017 San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium, suggest that when diagnosis related costs are taken into account, 3D mammography is more cost efficient than 2D mammography.

Verdict: 3D Mammography Wins

Based on current research, as well as our first-hand experience with 3D mammography at Bergen Imaging Center, the answer is a resounding yes!

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20 Dec
0

Study: 3D Mammography Better Identifies Smaller Cancer than 2D Mammography

A recent study conducted by Yale researchers, and presented at the RSNA 2017 meeting in Chicago, found that digital breast tomosynthesis (DBT), more commonly referred to as 3D mammography, identifies smaller breast cancer than traditional 2D screening mammograms.

While previous research has demonstrated that 3D mammography results in higher breast cancer detection rates and fewer false positives than digital screening mammograms—specific characteristics of cancers identified by the technology are not well understood.

“DBT is a relatively new technique in breast imaging, and available data on screen-detected cancers over several years of consecutive use is limited,” Dr. Maryam Etesami of Yale University School of Medicine and the Smilow Cancer Hospital at Yale New Haven said.

The Study: Digital Mammograms Vs. 3D Mammograms

In the study, Dr. Etesami and her peers set out to identify cancer characteristics found by 3D mammograms. The team examined results from 44,050 screening mammograms completed between 2008 and 2016. More than 28,000 came from mammograms conducted between 2011 and 2016, and contained a combination of 3D mammography and 2D digital mammogram results.

The researchers found that 3D mammography better detected smaller cancers than its digital 2D counterpart, and that DBT had fewer positive axillary lymph nodes as well.

“As we know, axillary lymph node metastasis significantly increases morbidity and mortality of breast cancer,” Etesami said. “Our results show that DBT performs better than 2D mammography alone in what we expect from a screening tool, which is early detection of clinically significant cancers before they spread to axillary lymph nodes.”

The results are significant because once cancer spreads to lymph nodes it is harder to treat, and more deadly. The finding indicates that 3D mammography can improve outcomes for women diagnosed with early breast cancer.

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Breast Cancer Awareness Month NJ
06 Nov
0

Breast Cancer Awareness Month: Can I Lower my Risk?

While there are many risk factors for breast cancer that are out of our hands, it’s comforting to know that there are some we can control.

Doesn’t it feel like Breast Cancer Awareness Month flew by? We were just preparing for it, and now it’s in the past. Like time itself, there are many aspects of breast cancer that we still don’t understand and can’t control.

There is no guaranteed way to prevent the disease. That said, research suggests there are many controllable factors that play an important role in breast cancer prevention.

Instead of focusing on the factors we can’t control, let’s channel the positivity and inspiration from Breast Cancer Awareness Month to focus on what we can do to lower our risk of developing breast cancer.

Know Your “Normal” –  Also known as breast self-awareness, it’s important to know what’s normal for your body.  If something feels strange, if you notice a bump, lump, discharge, or anything “off” about your breasts, then schedule an appointment with your doctor.

Practice Self Care  –  Don’t underestimate the importance of self care. Smoking, poor diet, sedentary lifestyle, excessive alcohol intake – all of these habits are linked to developing breast cancer. By maintaining a healthy weight, eating a balanced diet, and exercising, you can drastically improve your overall quality of life, while lowering your risk.

Mammograms Save Lives  – The latest research suggests that annual mammograms – starting at age 40 – reduce death rates by 40 percent.  By getting regular mammograms you’ll sleep better knowing that you are healthy. And if something doesn’t look right, annual mammograms increase the odds that you’ll catch it early, while it’s still treatable.

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Breast Cancer Awareness Month
04 Oct
0

Breast Cancer Awareness Month: We’ve Come a Long Way

The beginning of breast cancer awareness month was marked with sad news. VEEP actress, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, recently announced that she has breast cancer.

“One in eight women get breast cancer. Today, I’m the one,” she shared via Twitter.

“The good news is that I have the most glorious group of supportive and caring family and friends, and fantastic insurance through my union. The bad news is that not all women are so lucky,” she wrote.

While not everyone has access to truly affordable health care (simply having ‘health insurance’ is very different from access to affordable care), the good news is that, at least in the United States, we have access to information. As the saying goes, ‘knowledge is power’ – and thanks to the rise of breast cancer awareness, we know about breast self-awareness, about early signs and symptoms of the disease, what we can do – in part – to prevent it, and about the importance of mammograms.

However, that hasn’t always been the case. While the fight against the devastating illness is far from over, it’s important to acknowledge how far we’ve come.

From Terese Lasser, a breast cancer patient and activist who founded the Reach to Recovery program in the 1950’s; to the development of mammography in the 1960’s; to Betty Ford opening up a national dialogue about breast cancer in the 1970’s after her own diagnoses; to the creation of the Susan G. Komen foundation in the 1980’s; to the birth of the pink ribbon in the 1990’s; and finally, to the rise of the internet in the 2000’s, and social media and the proliferation of breast cancer awareness worldwide in recent years – we’ve come a long way.

Just 25 or 30 years ago, simply saying the word ‘breast’ in public carried a stigma. Now, even NFL players proudly don pink in honor of breast cancer awareness month. If that isn’t progress, I don’t know what is.

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21 Sep
0

Breast Cancer Awareness Month: It’s Personal

As Breast Cancer Awareness Month 2017 approaches, it’s time to reflect on your breast health.

For those of us who have suffered through the hell of breast cancer – whether experiencing it firsthand, or supporting a loved one – we know that Breast Cancer Awareness Month is about so more than a pink ribbon.

What Does Breast Cancer Awareness Month Mean to You?

Breast Cancer Awareness Month means different things to different people. For some, it’s about celebrating survival and new life after the long battle with cancer has been won. For others, it’s about remembering and reflecting on the life of a loved one lost to the disease. For others still, it’s more controversial – with skeptics arguing that Breast Cancer Awareness Month is little more than a marketing scheme designed to sell merchandise, and increase profits.

Whatever your beliefs on the topic, it’s important not to get caught up in the controversy. At Bergen Imaging Canter we believe that Breast Cancer Awareness Month is personal: it’s about you, and staying abreast of the latest in breast health. That means making sure you’re up to date on life-saving mammograms, and catching up on our educational breast cancer awareness blog series.

About Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Breast Cancer Awareness Month, observed in October by countries all across the world, helps to spread awareness about the disease, highlights the importance of early detection and treatment, and honors those who died. It has destigmatized cancer in general, shed light on the life-saving role of mammography, and taught us that breast cancer doesn’t have to be a death sentence.

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