Breast health is an integral part of a woman’s overall well-being, and it’s crucial for all individuals to be proactive in maintaining it. Mammograms, along with early detection through regular breast self-exams and clinical check-ups, play a significant role in preventing and combating breast cancer, one of the most common diseases affecting women worldwide. Safety is the number one priority of our surgeons, and ensuring proper breast health prior to a procedure helps to make sure you are a safe candidate for surgery with Dr. Koenig and Dr. Amalfi. After surgery, maintaining breast health is equally as important.
As we honor National BRA (breast reconstruction awareness) day, we’ll explore the importance of breast health, the role of mammograms, and why early detection can save lives.
Understanding Breast Health
Breast health encompasses a range of factors, from lifestyle choices to regular check-ups and self-exams. These factors are critical in maintaining healthy breasts and preventing breast cancer, which can affect women of all ages.
- Lifestyle Choices: A healthy lifestyle that includes a balanced diet, regular exercise, and the avoidance of smoking and excessive alcohol consumption can significantly reduce the risk of breast cancer. Maintaining a healthy weight and consuming a diet rich in fruits and vegetables is also essential.
- Breast Self-Exams: Regular breast self-exams are a simple yet powerful tool for early detection. By becoming familiar with the look and feel of your breasts, you can identify any unusual changes. These may include lumps, skin changes, or nipple discharge.
At the Quatela Center, we require that prior to any breast surgery, patients 35 or older obtain a screening mammogram within one year of their scheduled procedure date to ensure breast health. Any patient 40 or over is eligible for testing through their insurance. Patients ages 35-39 receive a requisition from Dr. Koenig or Dr. Amalfi to schedule with their local imaging center.
The Role of Mammograms
Mammograms are specialized X-ray exams of the breast that can detect breast cancer in its earliest, most treatable stages. Mammograms are safe for patients after beast surgery, your implant will not pop with a mammogram, and should be done routinely every year. We recommend patients schedule their routine mammogram screening around 3-6 months post-operatively, if over the age of 40.
Here’s why mammograms are so crucial:
- Early Detection: Mammograms can often detect breast cancer before it causes symptoms. This early detection allows for more effective treatment, increasing the chances of remission.
- Screening Guidelines: The recommended age for starting mammograms varies depending on medical guidelines and individual risk factors. Generally, women are advised to begin screening at the age of 40 and continue every 1-2 years.
- Dense Breast Tissue: Mammograms may be less effective for women with dense breast tissue, as it can be more challenging to spot abnormalities. In such cases, additional screening methods, like ultrasound or MRI, may be recommended.
Sometimes women who have implants are eligible for additional screening, such as a breast ultrasound. If it is offered and covered by their insurance, we encourage patients to have this testing done, as it is often an even better tool for detection of breast health and the integrity of the breast implant. Likewise, if a women has an issue with their implant, a mammogram and ultrasound will be ordered. The gold standard is an MRI of the breasts to check the integrity of the implant. This is only done if needed and ordered specifically by your physician.
The Importance of Early Detection
Early detection is very important, especially in cases where there is a family history of breast cancer. The sooner a change or issue is found, the higher the likelihood of a good outcome.
- Improved Survival Rates: Early detection of breast cancer is the key to improving survival rates. When cancer is found at an early stage, the chances of successful treatment and recovery are much higher.
- Less Aggressive Treatment: Detecting breast cancer in its early stages often allows for less aggressive treatment options, such as lumpectomy instead of mastectomy, and a reduced need for chemotherapy or radiation therapy.
- Enhanced Quality of Life: Early detection not only increases the chances of survival but also reduces the physical and emotional toll of breast cancer. Less invasive treatments result in fewer side effects and a better overall quality of life for patients.
Breast health, mammograms, and early detection are of paramount importance in the fight against breast cancer. Every individual, regardless of their age or gender, should be proactive in maintaining breast health through a healthy lifestyle, regular self-exams, and clinical check-ups. The Quatela Center stands with breast cancer patients, survivors, and their families. As advocates for breast health, we encourage everyone to perform monthly breast exams and get regular mammograms. Remember, the simple act of prioritizing breast health can save lives and significantly improve the outcomes for those facing a breast cancer diagnosis. Take action today to protect your health and the well-being of your loved ones.