In my opinion, when we think of Breast Health we automatically think of breast cancer prevention. Breast cancer prevention certainly focuses on mammograms. A yearly mammogram is a stressful experience for many women including myself but it is a necessary exam to address good breast health and perhaps, early detection of Breast Cancer. The American Cancer Society issued Guidelines for the Early Detection of Cancer and thus, prevention; The American Cancer Society recommends the following.
• Yearly mammograms are recommended starting at age 40 and continuing for as long as a woman is in good health
• Clinical breast exam (CBE) about every 3 years for women in their 20s and 30s and every year for women 40 and over
• Women should know how their breasts normally look and feel and report any breast change promptly to their health care provider. Breast self-exam (BSE) is an option for women starting in their 20s.
Some women – because of their family history, a genetic tendency, or certain other factors – should be screened via an MRI in addition to mammograms. (The number of women who fall into this category is small: less than 2% of all the women in the US.
“Hologic, Inc. , a leading developer, manufacturer and supplier of premium diagnostics, medical imaging systems and surgical products dedicated to serving the healthcare needs of women, announced that a groundbreaking new study published in Radiology, the Radiological Society of North America scientific journal, found that the addition of three-dimensional (3D) mammography (breast tomosynthesis) screening technology along with a 2D breast screening exam significantly increased cancer detection while reducing the number of false positives”.
3D mammography was approved for clinical use for breast cancer screening and diagnosis in the U.S. in February, 2011 and has been available in countries recognizing the CE mark since 2008. Hologic’s 3D mammography technology is in use in 47 states and 30 countries outside the U.S. Unlike a screening 2D digital mammogram, which involves a single X-ray image of the breast, 3D mammography captures multiple, low-dose images from multiple angles around the breast”.
I found this encouraging statement on http://www.cancer.gov
“We will use our rapidly increasing knowledge in the fields of cancer genomics and cell biology to develop more effective and less toxic treatments for breast cancer and to improve our ability to identify cancers that are more likely to recur. Moreover, we will use this knowledge to tailor breast cancer therapy to the individual patient. For example, gene expression analysis has led to the identification of five subtypes of breast cancer that have distinct biological features, clinical outcomes, and responses to chemotherapy. This knowledge can be exploited in the development of treatment strategies based on the specific characteristics of a woman’s tumor. Furthermore, a patient’s response to chemotherapy is influenced not only by the genetic characteristics of their tumor but also by inherited variations in genes that affect the body’s ability to absorb, metabolize, and eliminate drugs. Our growing knowledge should enable prediction a of tumor responses to individual chemotherapy drugs or classes of drugs, as well as the likelihood of severe adverse effects from them. This knowledge should also aid in the development of more individualized treatments which may promote the design of more effective and less toxic chemotherapy agents.”
Breast Cancer is the second most common type of cancer for women, second only to skin cancer. I did not intend for this blog to turn into a Breast cancer discussion but watching the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer http://www.avonwalk.org commercial on TV and thinking of so many survivors, as well as the brave women who have circum to the disease made me very aware of this continued threat and how important prevention/early detection is.