With upgraded equipment at Pikeville Medical Center (PMC), 3D mammography has become the standard tool for screening mammograms.

The FDA reports that less than half of the certified mammography facilities in the US use 3D mammography as the standard for screening mammograms. PMC is proud to offer to most advanced technology available to better detect cancer in earlier stages.

A 3D mammogram offers advantages in detecting breast cancer in people with dense breast tissue. A number of studies have also found that 3D mammograms find more cancers than traditional 2D mammograms and also reduce the number of false positives.

National Mammography Day is October 20. This day serves as a reminder to all women that the best defense against breast cancer is early detection. PMC encourages women with risk factors for breast cancer to be proactive about their health and get a mammogram.

The American Cancer Society recommends that women as early as 40 can have yearly mammograms if they have concerns, but all women should begin having yearly mammograms by age 45.

PMC uses mammography to detect breast cancer two different ways.

“A woman over the age of 40 who has concerns about her breast health can get a screening mammogram without a doctor’s order,” said Neil Hunt, manager of PMC’s Outpatient Diagnostic Center. “If you discover a lump or have pain or symptoms call your doctor to get a diagnostic mammogram. PMC employs very skilled technologists and the mammography services here are ACR accredited.”

A screening mammogram is very quick. Two or three images of the breast are taken and later read by a radiologist. The results are mailed to you and to your primary care physician.

A diagnostic mammogram also involves images taken, but they are read by the radiologist while the patient waits for the results. The radiologist determines then if further testing is necessary. Sometimes a focused ultrasound is then ordered if an area needs a better image. An MRI may be ordered when a mammogram is abnormal.

About one in every eight women will develop invasive breast cancer in her lifetime. In 2019, an estimated 268,600 new cases of invasive breast cancer are expected to be diagnosed in women in the US, along with 62,930 new cases of non-invasive breast cancer. Survivability of this disease is much greater when detected in the earliest stages.

A common misconception is that only people with a family history of breast cancer are at risk for this disease. More than 75 percent of breast cancers occur in women who have no family history. To reduce the risks of getting breast cancer Hunt recommends staying healthy by maintaining a healthy weight, exercising, and limiting alcohol consumption.”

Mammograms do not replace breast self-exams. Those should be performed every month. If you notice differences or feel pain, make an appointment to see a physician.