Tompkins Weekly

Preventive care can protect breast health



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 for both women and men. Finding problems early gives the best chance of successful treatment. Routine care can help find other noncancer (benign) conditions, too. 

Cayuga Health recommends women and men follow the American Cancer Society’s advice of 

knowing how their breasts normally look and feel. Doing this can help you notice any changes more easily. Changes to your breasts may include:

  • Lump
  • Leaky fluid (discharge, including blood) other than breastmilk
  • Swelling, especially if it affects only one breast
  • Nipple problems such as nipple pain, redness, flaking, or the nipple may turn inward.

These changes aren’t always caused by cancer, but if you notice any breast changes, you should see a health care professional as soon as possible.

Clinical breast exam

For women a routine physical exam might include a clinical breast exam by a healthcare provider or nurse trained to check breast problems. Cayuga Health recommends that women between ages 25 and 39 be offered a clinical breast exam by their healthcare provider every 1 to 3 years. After age 40, women should be offered a breast exam by a healthcare provider every year. 

Mammogram provides early detection

A mammogram is a low-dose X-ray of your breasts. A mammogram can find cancer or other problems early, before a lump can be felt. It can also help diagnose other breast problems. But a biopsy is needed to know for sure if you have cancer. The risk for developing breast cancer is about 100 times higher for women than for men. 

Health experts have different advice for breast cancer screening with mammograms. Cayuga Health endorses the American Cancer Society recommendations that include:

  • Yearly screening for all women at average risk ages 45 to 54. 
  • Women 55 and older may choose to continue having a yearly screening or change to mammograms every 2 years. 
  • Women between the ages 40 and 44 have the choice to start screening with a mammogram every year.
  • Screening should continue until at least age 75 years. After age 75, talk to your healthcare provider on the appropriate frequency for having mammograms. 

Women at high risk for breast cancer may be advised to start breast cancer screening at a younger age and have an MRI in addition to a mammogram. For some women with dense breast tissue, an ultrasound may be done in addition to a mammogram. Talk with your healthcare provider about when to start getting mammograms and how often to have them.

3D mammography at Cayuga Health

A new generation of mammogram technology is available at Cayuga Health’s Cayuga Medical Center, its East Campus and Cortland outpatient offices, and Schuyler Hospital. The advanced technology is providing more sensitive and clinically proven breast cancer exams that facilitate earlier cancer detection and reduce callbacks for additional diagnostic testing.

 Both hospitals and the outpatient offices offer 3D mammography that provides several important benefits for women:

  • Earlier detection of small breast cancers that may be hidden on a conventional mammogram.
  • Clearer images of abnormalities within dense breast tissue.
  • Greater accuracy in pinpointing the size, shape, and location of breast abnormalities.
  •  Improved detection of multiple breast tumors.
  • A reduction of up to 40 percent in callbacks for additional testing.

State-of-the-art mammogram technology is available from Cayuga Health at four convenient locations: Cayuga Medical Center main campus, 101 Dates Drive, Ithaca, (607) 274-4227; East Campus, 10 Arrowwood Drive, Ithaca, (607) 274-4227; Cortland Campus, 1129 Commons Ave., Cortland, (607) 274-4227 and Schuyler Hospital, 220 Steuben St., Montour Falls, (607) 535-8613.

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