Scans Save Lives: Detect Changes Sooner in Women’s Health

Preventative medicine can save lives. It is important for women to have baseline information about their bodies. If there are changes to your health, you are able to see them sooner and better monitor what’s going on in your body.

Breast cancer is the second most common cancer among women in the United States (some kinds of skin cancer are the most common) – CDC

Challenge yourself to be proactive in your health. Schedule a mammogram. Schedule a bone scan. This blog will discuss why both are important for women as they age. 

Your mammogram, your choice, no referral needed at Hudson Imaging.

Mammograms

Finding breast cancer early is the main goal of routine breast care. That’s why it’s so important to follow a plan for preventive care. Finding problems early gives you the best chance of successful treatment. Routine care can also help find other noncancerous or benign conditions, too.

The American Cancer Society says that all women & men should get to know how their breasts normally look and feel. Doing this can help you notice any changes more easily. 

  • Breast size and shape
  • Nipple size and shape
  • Color and texture of the skin on the breasts and nipples 

Contact your healthcare provider right away if you notice any of these changes.

An annual screening mammogram is recommended for women beginning at the age of 40, according to the American College of Radiology (ACR) and the Society of Breast Imaging (SBI).

A mammogram is a low-dose x-ray of the breast and surrounding tissues which can effectively detect cancers long before you or your physician might feel any changes. The goal of mammography is early detection of breast cancer.

Bone Density Scans (DEXA Scans)

Bone density scans, also known as DEXA scans, are used to diagnose or assess bone-related health problems, like osteoporosis.

A DEXA scan is a type of low-dose x-ray test that measures calcium and other minerals in your bones. The scan shows the strength and thickness of the bones, (known as bone density, or bone mass). For most of us, our bones become thinner the older we get. The scan helps check for risk of bone fractures, and how strong the bones are.

Your healthcare provider may recommend a DEXA scan if your bones are thinning or in order to test for osteoporosis. 

How Do I Know If I Should Get a Bone Scan?

Women aged 65 and older should get a bone density scan. Women as young as 50 years old should consider getting a bone density scan if they have suffered from the following risk factors: 

  • Breaking a bone in a minor accident
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Smoking  
  • Having a parent that has broken a hip
  • Using corticosteroid drugs for three months or more
  • Low body weight
  • Low vitamin D levels
  • Drinking heavily

You may need a follow up bone density scan after a couple of years, depending on the results of your first scan.

Schedule Your Scans.

At Hudson Imaging, challenge yourself this month to get your baseline scans done. Prevention starts with knowledge. The more we know about our bodies, the better we can care for them. Schedule your mammogram and/or bone density scan today. 

Source, CDC

Time for a Proactive Breast Health Plan

Taking a proactive role in your health and wellness journey is something you can begin at any age. Whether you like to hit the gym 5 days a week, limit your sugar intake, or perform yoga or Tai Chi for stability, there are many ways to stay active and give your mind and body the support it needs to thrive.

One area of women’s health that is just as important as getting enough exercise is breast health. In fact, exercise paired with mindful eating habits may help reduce your risk of developing illnesses like breast cancer or other serious conditions.

But aside from staying active and eating well, there are other lifestyle habits you can easily incorporate into your daily routine to protect your breasts as you age.

Top 10 Breast Health Tips

If you’re ready to start feeling your best and pursue a better lifestyle that keeps your body strong and healthy, check out these breast care tips below.

Practice Breast Health Screenings

You know that regularly checking your breasts for signs of abnormalities is important, but how many times would you say you do this throughout the year? Don’t beat yourself up about it. Instead, tell yourself this is the day that changes!

Regularly checking your breasts once a month can help you detect early signs of cancer. It’s a good idea to set a reminder on your smartphone, so you remember to do this at the same time each month (typically 7-10 days after your period).

Not sure how to perform a self-exam or what to look for? We have you covered! Check out this helpful guide from BreastCancer.org, where you’ll find instructions on how to perform a self-exam in 5 easy steps.

Know Your Breasts

As you regularly perform self-exams, you’ll start to become familiar with the size, shape, and texture of your breast. In doing so, you’ll be able to notice if something feels off or if you see discharge, rashes, or lumps appear on your breast.

If you notice a lump or something irregular, contact your doctor to schedule an appointment: “This is especially true for changes that last more than one full menstrual cycle or seem to get bigger or more prominent in some way,” (Breastcancer.org).

The important thing to do is not panic. There are other possible causes of non-cancerous breast lumps. But contacting your doctor is the best way to rule out any causes for concern.

Avoid Smoke Cigarettes

Smoking has continually been named a foremost cause of many serious illnesses, including breast cancer.

A California Department of Health Services study found that the rate of breast cancer amongst women smokers was around 30% higher than for those who had never smoked.

Separate research also suggests that the effects of smoking are cumulative, with risk increasing according to years of cigarette smoking. Hence, quitting now could help cut your risk of developing breast cancer later.

Known Your Family’s History

Be sure to ask your loved ones and relatives if there is any history of breast cancer in the family. According to The American Cancer Society, 5-10% of breast cancer cases are believed to be the result of gene mutations passed down from a parent to a child.

Be sure to share this information with your doctor, as your clinician may recommend additional preventative measures to help you detect any type of mutation early on.

Exercise/Maintain Healthy Weight

As we mentioned earlier, exercise is essential to your body’s health, especially your breast health.

Here’s how it works:

Fat cells produce estrogen, and high levels of that hormone have been linked to certain cancers. Staying active can actually shrink the size of fat cells, so your body pumps out less estrogen.

The American Cancer Society recommends getting at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise per week (ideally, spread out vs. doing it all at once). Any kind of cardio will do, so hop onto your bike, or hit the nearest hiking trail.

Short on time? Exercising at high intensity for 75 minutes a week will have the same benefit.

Apply Sunscreen

Many women love to bask under the summer sun or avoid using sunblock while running errands or working outside.

But here is what you need to remember. Your skin is an organ. In fact, it’s the largest organ you have. So, you want to do everything possible to protect it from harsh UV rays that can lead to sunburn, premature aging, and skin cancer. This includes applying sunblock and covering up your chest area and shoulders if you’re spending long durations outside and are seeing your skin turn red.

Limit Alcohol Intake

Most of us enjoy a glass of red wine after a long workday, or a margarita with friends on the weekend. But alcohol may increase your risk of breast cancer, as it raises estrogen levels in the body:

“Compared to women who don’t drink at all, women who have three alcoholic drinks per week have a 15% higher risk of breast cancer. Experts estimate that the risk of breast cancer goes up another 10% for each additional drink women regularly have each day,” (Breastcancer.org).

It’s recommended to keep your alcohol consumption to two or fewer drinks per week.

Check Your Bra Size

Did you know that, on average, more than 70% of women wear the wrong bra size? This can lead to significant health problems, including poor posture, skin irritation, and breathing difficulties—not to mention damage to the breast ligaments, causing breast pain and sagging.

Breast size can change frequently over your lifetime, due to weight changes, pregnancy, or menopause. So, rather than guessing your size, make sure you get measured regularly to ensure you are getting the support you need.

If you’d like to find your size now, check out this helpful guide that will help you get the right size in 4-easy steps!

Don’t Forget Folic Acid

Not eating enough folate, the naturally occurring form of folic acid, is linked with impaired ability to repair DNA. And damaged DNA has, in turn, been linked to cancer.

Folate is found in foods, such as spinach and black-eyed peas, as well as in folic-fortified cereals and grains.

Improve Your Posture

If you want to give yourself an instant breast lift, the best thing you can do is improve your posture.

The chest muscles can lose flexibility when your shoulders are hunched, causing sagging over time. Pay attention to how you stand and sit throughout the day and consider taking up an exercise that will improve your posture such as yoga, Pilates, or Tai Chi.

Also, try to fit in a few simple desk stretches throughout the day, as well. Just five minutes a day can help you start feeling great!

Bonus Breast Health Tip!

In addition to monthly self-exams, be sure you’re scheduling your annual mammogram appointment! A mammogram is an incredibly valuable screening exam that can help detect cancers at their earliest, most treatable stages.

Need to Book an Appointment?

Contact us here today

What Is a 3D Mammography?

A 3D mammography, also known as Digital Breast Tomosynthesis, is an advanced imaging test that uses multiple x-rays to put together a three-dimensional picture of your breast. This allows the Radiologist to examine your breast tissue—layer by layer—and have a clear picture of any abnormalities in the breast area.

If you’ve been regularly attending annual mammography screenings, or this is your first one, you may have questions about which test will provide the most accurate analysis, and what you can expect during the procedure.

At The Breast Center of Maple Grove, we want every woman who walks through our doors to feel confident and empowered to take a proactive role in her health and wellness journey. That means having a strong understanding of your options when it comes to choosing a mammography, and what’s involved in the process.

Below, you’ll find an overview of what a 3D mammography is, how it differs from a traditional 2D mammogram, and how you can prepare for this procedure.

3D Mammography vs. 2D Mammogram

As technologies continue to advance, we have greater access to equipment and procedures that allows us to diagnose health issues affecting women, like breast cancer, easier and earlier. 

3D mammography is one such advancement. The procedure, itself, is performed in much the same way as a traditional 2D mammogram. However, during a 3D mammogram, the Radiologist and technician will take multiple x-rays of your breast, from various angles. 

The images are then compiled together to create a 3D visual of your breast vs. a flat image (as you would have with 2D imaging). In fact, using the 3D image, the Radiologist can easily detect tumors, or other abnormalities, that may have otherwise been hidden by overlapping tissue on a 2D mammogram.

This isn’t to say that a 2D mammogram is not effective in detecting breast cancer. However, according to a 2019 study, it was reported that when compared to traditional 2D mammograms, 3D mammograms reported fewer false positives and were considered more effective in women ages 65 and older.

How accurate are 3d mammograms?

In addition to the study mentioned above, 3D mammography has been shown to benefit women with dense breasts, in particular. Yet, more studies continue to reveal benefits for women with breasts of any density.

For instance, another study reported that 3D mammography was more likely to find smaller, node-negative breast cancer (which means they did not spread to the lymph nodes) compared to breast cancers detected using standard digital mammography (i.e., 2D).

Is a 3d mammogram better for me?

According to the American Society of Breast Surgeons, it’s recommended that women aged 40 and older should undergo annual 3D mammography breast screening. They also recommend that if you are at a higher-than-average risk of breast cancer, you should undergo annual screenings, starting at a much earlier age (35 years old).

The decision is entirely up to you and your doctor. Be sure to discuss any concerns you may have about which mammogram is right for you and your individual circumstance. If you have questions, or would like to know more about these two procedures, our team will be happy to help!

Please give us a call or visit our service pages on 3D mammogramsdigital screening mammography, and diagnostic mammography for helpful FAQs about these procedures and how they differ. 

What to expect during a 3D mammogram

This procedure will look and feel very similar to a traditional mammogram. You will be asked to stand at the machine, placing one of your breasts on a plate. Your breast is then compressed against the plate by another plate, during which time, an x-ray is taken. With a 2D mammogram, two x-ray images are taken and then repeated on the other breast. 

As we mentioned with 3D mammograms, the Radiologists will need to capture multiple images of your breast tissue to form a complete 3D image. Therefore, during the screening, the x-ray arm will sweep in a small arc over the breast to capture these images from various angles. As this is the case, it will take a few seconds longer to get each image. 

Schedule your mammogram today!

Whether you’d like to request your first, or annual mammogram, our team is here to help! To schedule your appointment, please fill out our online form, or call us directly at (763) 398-6370. Remember that our care team is always here to listen to your concerns and answer any questions you may have.

We look forward to being a part of your journey to better women’s health! 

9 Breast Cancer Risk Factors

Breast cancer occurs when the cells in your breast change (or mutate) and grow in an uncontrolled way. This creates a mass of tissue known as a tumor. Breast cancer can invade the tissue surrounding your breast, or it may travel to other parts of the body to form new tumors.

About 1 in 8 women will develop invasive breast cancer over the course of her lifetime. Although breast cancer rates in the United States are actually decreasing, breast cancer is still the second leading cause of cancer death among women—second only to lung cancer.

Who Is at High Risk for Breast Cancer?

According to the National Breast Cancer Foundation, breast cancer may be the result of genetic or environmental factors, or sometimes a combination of both.

Below, we’ve listed a few generic risk factors to be aware of:

Your Gender

Although breast cancer affects both men and women, less than 1% of all new breast cancer cases happen in men. Women are significantly more likely to develop breast cancer than men.

Your Age

The risk of breast cancer increases with age. While breast cancer can happen earlier, it is most common in women over age 55.

According to the American Cancer Society (ACS):

  • Approximately 1 out of 8 invasive breast cancers develop in women younger than 45.
  • Approximately 2 out of every 3 invasive breast cancers are found in women 55 or older.

Your Family History

Having a family history of breast cancer increases your risk, as well. If a close relative, like a parent, sibling or child, was diagnosed with breast or ovarian cancer, you have a higher risk of being diagnosed with breast cancer in the future.

Your Menstrual and Reproductive History

Beginning menstruation before the age of 12, or beginning menopause after age 55, can increase your risk for breast cancer. In addition, having your first child at an older age or never giving birth at all can increase your risk.

Environmental Causes of Breast Cancer

In addition to genetic causes, your lifestyle and habits can also put you at greater risk for developing breast cancer. We’ve listed a few examples below:

Your Activity Level

If you spend most of the day sitting with very little physical activity, you may increase your risk for breast cancer.

Your Diet

If your diet consists of high saturated fats with little fruits and vegetables, this, too, can increase your risk.

Your Weight

In addition to exercise and food, being overweight or obese can increase your risk. According to ACS, if you are overweight and have already gone through menopause, this risk increases even more.

Your Alcohol Consumption  

The higher the number of alcoholic beverages you drink each day, the higher chance you have of developing breast cancer:

“Women who have 1 alcoholic drink a day have a small (about 7% to 10%) increase in risk compared with those who don’t drink, while women who have 2 to 3 drinks a day have about a 20% higher risk,” (ACS).

Your Postmenopausal Hormone Therapy

Treating menopause symptoms with hormone therapy medications that include estrogen and progesterone, also called hormone replacement therapy, puts you at increased risk for breast cancer.

Can You Get Breast Cancer at 14 or Younger?

Breast cancer is very rare in teenagers. Changes in breast size, for instance, is a normal part of puberty. However, if breast cancer runs in your family, it’s important to educate your teen on the importance of regular breast exams, as well as mammograms when they get older, to improve early detection.

This may also present an opportunity to discuss the type of environmental risk factors we noted earlier, and educate your teen on how to avoid them.

How to Reduce Risk of Breast Cancer

Pursuing a healthy lifestyle that combines nutrition with physical activity is one of the first steps to combating breast cancer and other illnesses. However, as there are other factors that can put you at higher risk for developing this disease, knowing these risks, as well as getting annual screening mammograms, beginning at age 40, are effective ways to catch breast cancer in its earliest, most treatable stage.

At The Breast Center of Maple Grove, we make it easy to fit your annual mammogram into your busy schedule. We offer convenient, same-day appointments every Monday through Friday 7:30am-5:00pm. We also offer extended hours from 7am-8pm, Monday-Wednesday, and we can accommodate walk-ins.

If you’re due for your mammogram, you can make an appointment now, or walk right into our center conveniently located across from Maple Grove Hospital.

First Mammogram? Here’s What You Can Expect

Did you recently schedule your first mammogram? If so, great job! A mammogram is an incredibly valuable screening exam that can help detect cancers at their earliest, most treatable stages.

Every woman’s first mammogram experience is deeply personal, but it can feel slightly invasive to some. In fact, it can leave even the fiercest females with lingering questions beforehand, including:

  • How do I prepare for a mammogram?
  • What should I expect during the breast exam?
  • What will compression feel like?
  • How long does the exam take?
  • Do I really need a mammogram every year?

By learning how to prepare for your first mammogram, and what you can expect during the exam, you can quickly eliminate many of these questions that may be causing you to feel anxious.

Of course, if you have questions beforehand, we invite you to contact us for support and to address your concerns. We want you to feel confident and empowered on your journey to better health and wellness!

To help put your mind at ease, we’ve compiled a few answers to the questions listed above.

How to Prepare for Your First Mammogram

Rest assured that preparing for your first mammogram is simple! Below we’ve listed a few things you’ll want to keep in mind before the exam:

  • Choose the right time: Be sure to schedule your mammogram during the week following your period, when your breasts are less tender. This may help reduce discomfort from compression during the exam.
  • Avoid wearing deodorant, powder, or lotion: Don’t wear deodorant, powder, or lotion near your breasts or your underarms on the day of your exam. Sometimes, these products can look like calcium spots on mammogram images, which may interfere with an accurate diagnosis.
  • Send previous mammogram images: If you’ve had a previous mammogram at a different facility, ask to have a copy of the images transferred to The Breast Center of Maple Grove. Prior images allow the radiologist to see changes over time, which is critical in diagnosing very early stage breast cancers.
  • Wear no-fuss clothing: Choose clothes that are easy to take on and off and be sure to wear a two-piece outfit so you can remove just the top portion for your exam.
  • Avoid wearing jewelry: You will need to remove your jewelry—especially earrings and necklaces—before the exam. It’s best not to wear jewelry that day so you don’t have to worry about storing it or losing it.

What To Expect During a Mammogram

An experienced female technologist will conduct your mammogram.

First, she’ll ask you questions about your personal medical history and relevant family history. If you have any questions about your exam, your technologist will be happy to answer them and help you feel comfortable.

Next, you’ll change into a warm soft robe, removing all jewelry and accessories.

Afterward, the technologist will position your breast between two plates, which will then compress the breast while an image is taken. The technologist will reposition the breast, which will be compressed and imaged again.

Finally, the process will be repeated on the other breast.

Guess what? That’s it! The actual exam portion takes less than 10 minutes to complete.

Getting Your Mammogram Results

Your mammogram images will be read by a board certified radiologist, who will send a full report to your referring physician.

If you are one of the approximately 40% of women in America with dense breast tissue, you’ll also receive a letter with this information. Dense breast tissue and cancer both appear white on mammogram images, which can make it more difficult to diagnose breast cancer.

If you have dense breast tissue, there are additional breast imaging options available, including ultrasound and MRI. Speak with your doctor to decide what is right for you.

After reviewing the screening mammogram images, the radiologist may need to get a closer look at a particular area of breast tissue. In that case, you may be called back to the breast center for a diagnostic mammogram.

This does not mean you have cancer! Nearly 90% of patients who are called back for a diagnostic mammogram are not diagnosed with cancer. However, it is important to follow up and have additional imaging if recommended by the radiologist.

What Will Compression Feel Like?

Though compression can be uncomfortable, it is well-tolerated by most women. It’s also very important. It allows the breast tissue to spread and flatten. This guarantees a clear view of the breast and reduces the radiation needed to capture detailed images of the breast tissue.

If you’re concerned about feeling discomfort, it may help to take an over-the-counter pain medication about an hour before your appointment.

If you have any questions or concerns about the procedure, our team is here to help! Give us a call, so we can answer your questions.

How Long Is a Mammogram? 

The entire mammogram procedure will take about 30 minutes to complete. This includes the consultation beforehand with the technologist. Your technologist will help you get into the proper position and then each breast will be compressed for about 30 seconds.

When Should You Get Your First Mammogram?

Most radiologists agree that the average woman should begin receiving annual screening mammograms at age 40. Women at higher risk, or with additional risk factors, may need screening mammograms earlier or more often.

It’s always best to talk with your doctor to decide how early, or how often, you should get a mammogram.

Are Mammograms Really Necessary Every Year?

For most women, the answer is yes! Experts from the American Medical Association, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the American College of Radiology, and the physicians at The Breast Center of Maple Grove agree that most women at average risk should receive annual mammograms.

The goal of a screening mammogram is to diagnose breast cancer in its earliest stages, when treatments tend to be more effective, and survival rates are higher. It’s not just another mammogram, it’s a proactive step to ensure your health moving forward.

Here are a few other reasons you’ll want to consider:

  • Early Detection Saves Lives: When breast cancer is diagnosed and treated in the earliest stages, treatments tend to be more effective, and survival rates are higher.
  • Comparison Images are Helpful: If certain areas of breast tissue change over time, it could be an indicator of a potential cancer. When you get a mammogram every year, your radiologist can use these images to see exactly what has changed, and whether there is something to be concerned about.
  • A Normal Mammogram Isn’t Guaranteed Every Year: Even if you’ve had normal mammograms in the past, breast tissue can change. When it comes to your breast health, it’s better to be safe and proactive!

Male Breast Cancer Symptoms

Male Breast Cancer Symptoms

 Male breast cancer symptoms are often ignored because many people believe that men can’t get breast cancer. Men and women both have breast tissue, but the vast majority of men lack the hormones that cause the breast tissue to grow into full breasts. Male breast cancer is rare, with less than 1% of all breast cancers diagnosed in men. However, both women and men should note any breast changes and speak to a doctor to rule out breast cancer, or other conditions.

Male Breast Cancer Symptoms

Male breast cancer symptoms are the same as female breast cancer symptoms and include:

  • Pain in the breast, on the nipple, or under the armpit
  • A lump in the breast or under the armpit
  • Nipple discharge
  • Sores on the nipple
  • Inversion of the nipple

Risk Factors for Male Breast Cancer

  • Age – the risk of breast cancer increases with age for both men and women
  • Family history – if there is a history of breast cancer in the family, especially in another male, a man’s risk of breast cancer increases
  • Hormonal imbalance – men with higher levels of estrogen and/or lower levels of androgens have an increased risk for developing male breast cancer
  • Previous radiation exposure – radiation to the chest, particularly during childhood, may increase the risk for male breast cancer

Diagnosing Male Breast Cancer

If breast changes are noticed, a mammogram is likely to be recommended. During a mammogram, the breast tissue is compressed between two plates and imaged with an x-ray. A radiologist will read the images an issue a report. Sometimes, additional imaging studies, like a diagnostic mammogram or an ultrasound, are needed to obtain a different view or more detail.

What to Do if You Notice Breast Cancer Symptoms

Male breast cancer symptoms shouldn’t be ignored. If you notice breast changes, contact your doctor, who can order any necessary tests. It is important to diagnose and treat all types of cancer, including male breast cancer, at the earliest stages in order for the treatments to be most effective. Whether you’re a man or a woman, the experienced technologists at the Breast Center of Maple Grove can help you to feel comfortable throughout your breast imaging exam.

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