Breast Cancer Detection and Treatment

Breast Cancer Detection and Treatment

Why is it important to have regular breast cancer screenings?

At Weeks Medical Center, we abide by and have complete confidence in the American Cancer Society’s recommendations. The Society recommends annual mammogram screenings and clinical breast examinations for all women beginning at age 40. There is strong evidence that mammogram screenings substantially reduce breast cancer mortality in women ages 40 to 74. Women in their 20s and 30s should have a clinical breast exam with a healthcare provider at least every three years.

What are the current breast cancer statistics?

Only two to four mammograms of every 1,000 lead to a diagnosis of cancer. About 10 percent of women who have a mammogram will require more tests, and the majority will only need an additional mammogram. Don’t panic if this happens to you. Only eight to 10 percent of those women will need a biopsy, and about 80 percent of those biopsies will not be cancer.

What is a breast biopsy?

Lumps or abnormalities in the breast are often detected by physical exam, mammography, or other imaging studies. A breast biopsy is the removal of breast tissue and fluid from the abnormal area and examined for signs of breast cancer or other disorders.

If I need a breast biopsy, is Weeks equipped to perform the procedure?

Yes. Weeks has the latest breast biopsy technology, including a new state-of-the-art Stereotactic Breast Biopsy System. A stereotactic breast biopsy uses mammography to help pinpoint the spot in the breast that needs to be removed. This simple, outpatient procedure requires only a tiny incision which minimizes discomfort and allows patients to immediately resume most normal activities. We also perform something called an Open Excisional Biopsy, which is usually performed under local anesthesia. The surgeon makes a small incision as close to the lump as possible, removes the lump, and the incision is sutured.

What if I need breast surgery for cancer?

Surgery is typically the first mode of therapy for most breast cancers. Before any operation, the Weeks surgeon talks with the patient about the most appropriate type of surgery. The type of surgery depends on the size of the cancer in the breast; whether it has spread to any other part of the body; and the patient’s personal preference. Weeks offers lumpectomies, simple and radical mastectomies, sentinel lymph node biopsies, and lymph node removals. Patients may require follow-up radiation after surgery. If further cancer care is required, such as chemotherapy, Weeks has a dedicated team of Dartmouth-Hitchcock oncologists and a fully staffed oncology department.

By Maude Oetking, MD

Maude Oetking specializes in general surgery and is based at the Lancaster Physicians Office. For more information or for an appointment, please call 603-788-5095