Tag Archives: Breast cancer

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.

 

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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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Study Shows Exercise Lowers Risk of Breast Cancer and Recurrence

Posted on: September 4, 2014

Take a Walk and Reduce Your Risk

A recent study found that postmenopausal women, who in the past four years had undertaken regular physical activity equivalent to at least four hours of walking per week, had a lower risk for invasive breast cancer compared with women who exercised less during those four years, according to data published in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention, a journal of the American Association for Cancer Research.

At the Breast Institute at Northern Westchester Hospital, we encourage the entire health and wellness of our patients, whether it is prior to diagnosis, all the way through survivorship of breast cancer.

As part of the care we provide, we discuss prevention with our patients, as well as prevention of recurrence of breast cancer.  A sedentary lifestyle can impact a patient’s risk for developing breast cancer, so we encourage all of our patients to add exercise such as walking or bicycling to their regular routines if they are not already doing so.

A combination of exercise and a healthy diet will also help manage weight, another risk factor tied to developing breast cancer.  The following tips could help reduce developing breast cancer, as well as work to prevent developing a recurrence in our survivor population:

•    Regular exercise (walking, bicycling);
•    Weight reduction, if applicable;
•    Stop smoking.

This is good advice for all people, and it certainly applies to lowering one’s risk of developing breast cancer or a recurrence.

It is important that you have access to a full spectrum of experts skilled in the latest advancements in breast health.  Our team of dedicated professionals includes geneticists, radiologists, oncologists, cancer and reconstructive surgeons, integrative medicine practitioners and oncology nurses, each with experience and expertise in restoring women to their best possible health.

Editor’s Note: Dr. Philip Bonanno is Director of The Breast Institute at Northern Westchester Hospital

Westchester Breast Surgeon on the Risks and Benefits of Mammograms

Posted on: February 18, 2014

To Get a Mammogram or Not To Get a Mammogram: Risk Status Should Play a Role

By Philip C. Bonanno, MD, FACS, Director of The Breast Program and Director of Integrated Cancer Care in the Cancer Treatment and Wellness Center at Northern Westchester Hospital

100533240(2)This news was hard to miss: A new study suggested that women who get annual mammograms are as likely to die from breast cancer as women who only get breast examinations from qualified doctors and nurses. If you find that news confusing, you’re not alone. Doctors, public health officials, and cancer specialists are all trying to figure out what the findings mean when it comes to detecting breast cancer and protecting women.

The study, published in the respected British Medical Journal, tracked more than 90,000 women for 25 years. The results found that death rates from breast cancer were identical in women who got mammograms and those who did not. Worse, in one in five cases, getting a mammogram often led to biopsies, radiation, and chemotherapy to treat cancers that actually posed no threat to the patient.

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New York Nurse Practitioner Discusses Comprehensive Cancer Care

Posted on: October 10, 2013

Mind, Body & Soul: Truly Comprehensive Cancer Care

by Marilyn Leroy-Sterling, NP, Care Coordinator,  Health and Wellness Program, Northern Westchester Hospital

NWH_CancerCenter_Ph#18D76FDA diagnosis of cancer is a staggering blow. Although the treatments for patients with cancer are always improving, the emotional and physical impact of a cancer diagnosis and subsequent treatment are often overwhelming. That’s why hospitals are beginning to offer services to cancer patients that treat more than the malignancy: They treat the whole person.

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