Tag Archives: Breast cancer

Empowering Women with a Breast Cancer Risk Assessment

Posted on: January 16, 2017

Do you need a breast cancer risk assessment? If you are shaking your head “no” because you believe you have no breast cancer risk factors, prepare to be surprised. At least 75 percent of women in the U.S. who develop the disease are not high-risk; they are either low- or average-risk. That makes a breast cancer risk assessment essential for every woman. Here, I describe the crucial information you gain during an assessment, and how it empowers you to take action proven to substantially reduce your risk of developing breast cancer. By Dr. Karen Arthur, FACS, breast surgeon, Medical Director of The Breast Institute at Yorktown and Co-director of Northern Westchester Hospital’s new Breast Health Program.

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Know Your Cancer Risks Sooner…Have More Options

Posted on: December 19, 2016

Having a hereditary (also called genetic) predisposition to cancer raises your risk of developing cancer. That’s why it’s important to learn about your possible risk of a hereditary cancer syndrome through genetic counseling. Genetic counseling – which may lead to optional genetic testing – helps you understand your cancer risk so you can take steps to catch cancer early enough to make a difference, consider prophylactic medications or surgery to reduce your risk of developing cancer, and use the information to help you and your providers make the very best decisions about cancer treatment. By Nancy Cohen, MS, CGC (Certified Genetic Counselor) at the Cancer Treatment & Wellness Center, Northern Westchester Hospital.

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DCIS, The Most Common Type of Stage 0 Breast Cancer

Posted on: October 24, 2016

If you have not personally experienced non-invasive (Stage 0) breast cancer, you may not be sure what it is, how it’s detected, or what your treatment options are. What’s more, you may recall some controversy regarding the condition. Read on to get the facts and a great deal of comfort from the outstanding outcomes among women treated for DCIS, or ductal carcinoma in situ. By Anthony C. Cahan, MD, FACS, Chief of Breast Surgical Services at The Breast Institute at Northern Westchester Hospital

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Mammograms: An Effective Tool in the Fight Against Breast Cancer

Posted on: May 13, 2015

Sandra Lee’s Diagnosis Has Many Women Asking: Should I Get a Mammogram?

Dr. Bonnie Litvack, Medical Director of the Women’s Imaging Center at Northern Westchester Hospital, answers questions many women have about when to start getting mammograms in light of the news that Food Network star and author Sandra Lee, who is Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s partner, has been diagnosed with breast cancer.

When should I start getting routine mammograms?
I, along with the American Cancer Society, recommend women start getting annual mammograms at the age of 40. I know there are differing opinions, but there is not a high incidence of breast cancer before the age of 40. There are some exceptions, of course, which I explain below.

What if I have a history of breast cancer in my family? Should I start getting mammograms earlier?
If you have a family history of breast cancer, whether it is your mother, aunt, or grandmother on either side of the family, you should start getting mammograms 10 years earlier than the age your family member was diagnosed. For example, if your mother was diagnosed with breast cancer at age 35, you should begin to get mammograms at age 25. However, 25 is the youngest age that I would recommend a woman get a mammogram. If your mother was diagnosed at age 30, I’d still recommend you begin getting mammograms at age 25.

What if I feel a lump in my breast?
Call your doctor and make an appointment. Your doctor will make recommendations about next steps, including getting a mammogram, if deemed necessary.

How long does a mammogram take, and does it hurt?
Typically a mammogram only takes a few minutes. While some patients experience some discomfort, they are in the minority, and if they feel any pain, we manage it.

What if I have no family history of breast cancer? Do I still need to get mammograms?
Absolutely. In fact, 75%-80% of breast cancer diagnoses are with women with no family history.

How effective are mammograms?
They are very effective. Since 1990, mammograms have helped decrease the death rate among breast cancer patients by 15%-40% depending on which studies you read. That is an impressive and encouraging number given that up until 1980, the death rate was steady. Mammograms are an incredibly effective tool to detect breast cancer early, or to rule it out.

Editor’s Note:
Under the leadership of Dr. Bonnie Litvak, the Women’s Imaging Center at Northern Westchester Hospital has been acclaimed as a Breast Imaging Center of Excellence by the American College of Radiology. She is fellowship trained in MRI and has extensive experience in all aspects of women’s imaging, including mammography.

Northern Westchester Hospital also offers 3-D mammography.

 

Study: Genetic Testing for Ashkenazi Jews

Posted on: September 10, 2014

Study: Ashkenazi Jewish Descent as a Criterion for Genetic Testing
by Nancy Cohen, MS, CGC

Nancy Cohen Genetic Counselor WestchesterA new study, Population-based screening for breast and ovarian cancer risk due to BRCA1 and BRCA2 (abstract available in PubMed), suggests that population screening of Ashkenazi Jews for BRCA mutations may be beneficial because the cancer risks of those without a family history suggestive of a BRCA gene mutation were shown to be very similar cancer risks to those with such a history.

Since 2.5% of Ashkenazi Jews harbor BRCA mutations, and increased cancer surveillance and cancer risk reduction have been shown to improve outcomes for mutation carriers, such screening may have a useful role in this population. It will be interesting to see whether or not the guidelines from the NCCN will be adjsted to reflect this study.

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