Screening for Breast Cancer
Detection of breast cancer in its earliest stages offers women the best long-term prognosis. For this reason, early detection of breast cancer relies on a combination of screening methods. The American Cancer Society recommends the following screening methods:
- Women age 40 and older should have a screening mammogram every year and should continue to do so for as long as they are in good health.
- Women in their 20’s and 30’s should have a clinical breast examination (CBE) as part of a periodic (regular) health exam by a health professional preferably every three years. After age 40, women should have a breast exam by a health professional every year.
- Breast self exam (BSE) is an option for women starting in their 20’s. Whether one chooses to learn to perform a systematic breast self exam, all women should be familiar with the texture of their breast tissue and report any breast changes to their health professional right away.
- Women at increased risk for breast cancer should talk with their health care provider about the benefits and limitations of starting mammograms at a younger age or having more frequent clinical breast exams.
Lahey Hospital & Medical Center’s Comprehensive Breast Health Center offers you the highest quality screening for breast cancer. Dedicated breast surgeons and nurse practitioners conduct a through assessment to determine your risk for breast cancer and provide expert clinical breast examinations. They will help you to better understand your own breast tissue and perform your own breast self-exam if you so desire. Our professionals work closely and collaboratively with our professional staff of radiologists to interpret your breast imaging studies using the latest and most advanced technology. Any woman can refer herself to the Comprehensive Breast Health Center for a mammogram and clinical breast exam.
Some symptoms to watch for and report to your health care provider include:
A change in how the breast or nipple looks
- A change in the size or shape of the breast
- A nipple that is inverted
- Scaly, red or swollen skin on the breast, areola, or nipple
Abnormal nipple discharge is rarely associated with cancer but may be of concern particularly in women with bloody nipple discharge.
A change in how the breast or nipple feels
- A lump or thickening in or near the breast or in the armpit area
Breast Imaging Center
Lahey’s Breast Imaging Center is committed to providing the most compassionate and technologically advanced care to all of our patients. We make sure each woman is evaluated individually and that further breast care is customized to her needs and the findings on her breast studies.
Progressive imaging technologies such as 3-D Mammography, Breast MRI and PET scanning are currently available at Lahey to help supplement mammography and ultrasound. With the help of these leading edge technologies, clinicians can often provide faster and more accurate results to patients.
In addition, Lahey offers patients a Cancer Risk Assessment (CRA) taken at the time of their screening mammogram appointment. The CRA can establish a patient’s lifetime risk for developing breast cancer, so that they can work with their doctor to determine the best screening options available for them.
Importance of Annual Screening
Screening mammography is recommended annually for women age 40 and over. Screening annually has proven to decrease breast cancer mortality and allows for less aggressive treatment options by finding cancer earlier.
Following the annual appointment, Lahey will notify and provide information for women with dense breast tissue. Women with dense breast tissue, which is nearly 50 percent of women, may have an increased risk of developing cancer.
Download our brochure on breast density for more information.
For your mammogram appointment, we will need any prior mammograms you may have had outside of Lahey Hospital & Medical Center. Please fill out this form for Burlington and fax it to (781) 744-3738. If you would like us to request them for you. If you don’t have access to a fax, our mailing address is on the form.
We provide the most advanced screening and diagnostic imaging methods, which include:
- Digital 2-D and 3-D mammography with computer-assisted detection (CAD)
- Breast ultrasound
- Breast magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
- Combined positron emission tomography (PET/CT) scanning
- Cancer Risk Assessment (CRA) app
We offer state-of-the-art biopsy procedures. The type of biopsy taken will depend on your medical history, and may include:
- Fine needle aspiration
- Stereotactic needle breast biopsies
- Ultrasound-guided needle breast biopsies
- MRI-guided needle breast biopsies
- Sentinel node biopsy
- Axillary node dissection
- Reconstructive surgery using modern techniques with your own tissue or with implants
Your physician will determine which treatments are right for your particular, type of breast cancer. These may include:
- Endocrine therapies (or anti-estrogen treatments)
- Targeted therapies, including HER-2/neu-directed treatments
- Chemoprevention medications, which lower the risk of developing new cancers in individuals at higher than average risk
Lahey’s Department of Radiation Oncology is highly regarded for the development and use of specialized procedures in the treatment of breast cancers. These include:
- Conventional whole breast irradiation
- Accelerated partial breast irradiation: brachytherapy or 3-D conformal
- Intensity-Modulated Radiation Therapy
Learn more about screening procedures below.