Breast cancer is the most common type of cancer in women, but when it’s caught early experts say it is easier to treat.
The FDA recently proposed updates to mammogram standards, in which women would receive a short summary about their breast density.
When Kari Ebright noticed a small lump in her breast she headed straight to the doctor to find out what it was. Fortunately the lump wasn’t cancer, but instead Ebright found out something else.
“That’s when she told me you have extreme dense breasts, I highly recommend you know, mammograms so I’ve had one every year since,” Ebright said.
Dense breast tissue makes breast cancer screenings harder to read, and women who have it are at an increased risk of breast cancer.
The FDA recently proposed an update to breast cancer screenings, stating that all women must be informed about their breast density.
“There are many states in the country that already require that breast imaging centers talk with women or send them a letter that explains their breast density. South Dakota was not one of these states. With that being said Sanford has been doing this through our MyChart system and through letters for several years already,” Breast imaging radiologist Chris Johansen said.
Johansen says if you find out you have dense breast tissue you may benefit from extra screening options, such as an automated breast ultrasound.
“It’s a way of looking for breast cancer using ultrasound which really isn’t affected by breast density the way mammography is,” Johansen said.
This machine isn’t meant to replace a mammogram, but instead is meant as a secondary test for women with dense breast tissue.
“As a stand alone test it doesn’t perform quite as well as mammography but as a complimentary test, particularly in women with denser breasts it can be a very powerful, useful tool,” Johansen said.
He says all women should start receiving mammograms at age 40, stating that the stage of presentation is crucial.
“Early stage cancers can be treated very very effectively, with very high cure rates. We don’t have to use chemotherapy, the majority of women don’t even have to spend a night in the hospital,” Johansen said.
Johansen says most but not all breast cancer screenings are covered under most insurances.
Click here to schedule a screening.