Breast cancer affects nearly 180,000 American women each year. But with education and screenings, we can detect breast cancer early, when it is most treatable. And, if needed, we offer some of the newest and most advanced treatments now available.
Getting a Yearly Mammogram
The risk of breast cancer increases sharply with age. You can increase your chances for early detection of breast cancer by adhering to “the 5 commandments” of good breast health:
- Perform a breast self-exam every month
- Have a clinical breast exam conducted by a healthcare professional every year
- If warning signs appear, such as pain, a lump you can feel, or nipple discharge, see your doctor immediately
- Talk with your doctor about ways to reduce your risk
- Set a schedule of regular, yearly mammograms. Most doctors recommend that you begin having yearly mammograms at age 40.
A mammogram is a safe, low-dose x-ray that can detect irregularities in the breast, sometimes even before you or your doctor can feel a lump. In our newly renovated mammography center, you’ll benefit from sophisticated mammography systems that improve your comfort, require less time and, most of all, enhance image quality to aid in the early detection of breast cancer.
Advanced Stereotactic Capabilities
If your mammogram detects an abnormality, we can conduct a biopsy, which is where a small tissue sample is taken to determine if cancer is present. Though the majority of biopsies find no cancer, this minimally invasive procedure is the best way to be sure. Using advanced targeting and guidance technology, this procedure can be performed with pinpoint accuracy. It requires only a small incision and local anesthesia. Learn more about Stereotactic Breast Biopsy.
Brachytherapy: A More Direct Way to Treat Breast Cancer
In addition to more traditional forms of breast cancer treatment, St. Joseph Medical Center also offers Brachytherapy – a form of treatment for certain patients with early-stage breast cancer. Brachytherapy, also known as partial breast irradiation, involves implanting a catheter and a balloon into the surgical cavity, and introducing a radioactive “seed” directly into the catheter to treat the tumor bed. Brachytherapy enables the physician to apply a higher dose of radiation to the tumor bed, while sparing surrounding healthy tissue and organs, such as the lungs and heart, from receiving high doses of radiation.
The catheter remains inside the breast until the completion of 10 treatments. The radioactive seed is retracted after each treatment, so that no radiation remains in the breast.
Brachytherapy has been shown to be a powerful method in the fight against cancer. In fact, some studies have shown brachytherapy to be as effective as whole breast radiation. Besides sparing the whole breast from treatment, brachytherapy is also more convenient than other approaches. Each day for five days, patients receive two treatments that last about 15 minutes each. And, brachytherapy can be performed as an outpatient procedure, without hospitalization.
For more information about brachytherapy, please call 713-757-7593.