But some doctors are recommending women get mammograms before the age of 40.
Recently, Giuliana Rancic, entertainment reporter for the E! Network, revealed that at the age of 36, she has breast cancer.
Rancic and her husband had been trying to have a baby through in vitro fertilization (IVF) treatments. Before her third treatment attempt, her doctor told her she should have a mammogram. If there was any chance she could have breast cancer, hormones related to her pregnancy may accelerate the cancer.
In an interview on the “Today Show” this week, Rancic said she fought the idea, as she was still under 40 and had no familial history of breast cancer in her family. Soon after her mammogram, she was diagnosed with early stage breast cancer.
“Usually we don’t recommend routine screening before the age of 40, but each woman should discuss this with her health care provider and weigh her individual risk for breast cancer. Some women at high risk we will begin screening much earlier, even as early as 25 years,” says Emily Conant, MD, director of women’s imaging at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania.
Women who come to Penn Medicine for their mammograms are screened using a revolutionary new imaging process: digital breast tomosynthesis (DBT).
“DBT often allows us to see areas better than on regular digital mammograms, because the 3-D technology captures images of the breast at different depths and angles, all during the same compression as the regular mammogram,” says Dr. Conant. “In preliminary research, 3-D tomosynthesis imaging has been shown to reduce the number of false-positives and some false-negatives making mammography using the 3-D technique more accurate.”
Like a traditional mammogram, the breast is compressed for four to five seconds while a series of low-dose X-rays images are taken to capture high-resolution images of the breast. These imaged are then digitally “stacked” to construct a total 3-D image of the breast. This image allows radiologists to scroll through, and “peel apart” the layers of the breast to view the breast tissue at different depths and angles.
“DBT offers Penn radiologists a new kind of clarity, allowing them to manipulate and see parts of the breast that we couldn’t before,” says Dr. Conant. “Therefore, we can reduce some unnecessary imaging and stress for some women.”
Learn more about breast cancer treatment at Penn’s Abramson Cancer Center.
The Abramson Cancer Center is pleased to present the Focus on Women's Cancers Conference featuring:
- 20th Life After Breast Cancer
- 10th Focus On Gynecologic Cancers
- Focus On Your Risk of Breast and Ovarian Cancer
Friday, October 28, 2011
7:30 am to 3:30 pm
Hilton Hotel, 4200 City Avenue, Philadelphia, PA 19131
Register and view the full agenda at The Abramson Cancer Center, or register by phone at 800-789-PENN(7366).
Please register for only one conference but feel free on the day of the conference to attend sessions at any of the 3 conferences.
Portions of the program will be livestreamed at PennMedicine.org/Abramson/WomensCancersLIVE on the day of the conference.