Know Your Risks for Breast Cancer

September 30, 2020

According to the American Cancer Society, the lifetime risk for women to develop breast cancer at some time in their life is 13 percent or one in eight women.  Dr. Alicia Daniels, Chief of Radiology at Shore Medical Center and certified Breast Specialist at Advanced Shore Imaging Associates in Northfield said annual screening and mammograms are vital for early detection of breast cancer. Dr. Daniels said regular screenings enable physicians to see small changes in breast tissue before the patient even notices them. Regular screenings vastly improve a woman’s chance of a cure and  positive outcomes..

“Discovering even the smallest of tumors is so important. If we detect something small during an annual screening, it can be a huge difference to the patient,” said Dr. Daniels. “It can be the difference between having a lumpectomy with radiation and possibly not requiring chemotherapy. If it is small and has not spread into the patient's lymph nodes and they do not have to be removed, it will mean a faster recovery and return to their lives,” said Dr. Daniels. 

Understanding the Mammogram
Mammography machines are similar to X-rays but are designed to only look at breast tissue and use lower doses of radiation than a regular X-ray. Because these x-rays do not pass through tissue easily, the machine has two plates that compress or flatten the breast to spread the tissue apart. This allows a better picture and uses less radiation. If an abnormality is detected on a screening mammogram, your doctor will likely recommend a diagnostic mammogram to further evaluate that abnormality. 

Advanced Shore Imaging Associates has a digital breast tomosynthesis machine that  allows for a better view of the breast tissue. For this process, each breast is compressed once, and a machine takes many low-dose x-rays as it moves in an arc over the breast. A computer then puts the images together into a series of thin slices. This allows doctors to see breast tissues more clearly in three dimensions.

Do You Have Dense Breast Tissue? 
According to Dr. Daniels, dense breast tissue can pose a challenge to the radiologist. She explained that dense breasts are made up of fibrous,glandular and fatty tissues. The fatty tissue appears black on the screen and any tumor appears white and is readily visible. But dense breast tissue also appears white on the scan, which can hide tumors.  “It is like looking for an ice cube in a sea of water,” said Dr. Daniels. 

She explained that nearly half of all women have dense breast tissue, adding it has nothing to do with the patient’s weight. Instead,  it is more of a familial trait that can occur in young and old patients alike.    

New Technology - Automated Breast Volume Scan 
One newer breast imaging tool at Advanced Shore Imaging Associates is the Automated Breast Volume Scan (ABVS). It is the latest technology for breast cancer detection in women with dense breast tissue,  according to Dr. Daniels, and adds ultrasound to mammography.  The addition of ultrasound can better detect cancerous tumors in women with dense breast tissue that appears white on a mammogram

Going to the next step
Dr. Daniels said if there is something discovered on the imaging the patient can schedule a minimally invasive biopsy in the office, with no pre-op required. They can be in and out in less than an hour, and that includes getting a detailed family history for the patient. 

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and Shore Medical Center, Penn Medicine Cancer Network, and Advanced Shore Imaging Associates are working together to offer free screening from 9 a.m. – 2 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 24.  A script or imaging order from a physician is necessary for the screenings. Dr. Vijay Sandilya, Medical Director of Shore Cancer Center is offering a clinical breast exam and will provide a script for those who want to participate in this screening event. 

To make an appointment contact  609-653-3484.