Thanks to new technology that aids in early detection, more and more women are winning the battle against breast cancer.
The technology is something known as a tomosynthesis machine, but many women simply call it a lifesaver.
Dr. Ellen Shaw de Paredes is the founder and director of the Institute for Women's Imaging in Glen Allen. She and her staff have been using the 3D mammography machines for about a year now, and they have picked up cancers like this one: This is stage 3 breast cancer, and the patient showed no symptoms when she was examined.
"With 3D mammography, we're able to see so much more, picking up tiny cancers," said Paredes. "We're picking up some larger cancers that we cannot see on a standard digital mammogram, even a current one now. We're also picking up a number of pre-cancers, which is a wonderful thing because we can identify lesions before they've yet progressed to become cancer, and the patient can have that lesion removed and prevent her from developing breast cancer down the road."
Technology has come a long way since Dr. Paredes began practicing radiology in the early 80s. She said at that time, screenings for breast cancer were nonexistent. Today, even though she is seeing better technology to help in early detection, she's also seeing more women under the age of 40 being diagnosed with it. That's why she says consistent mammograms are so important.
"Certainly, a woman who is at increased risk over the average may need to start screening mammography earlier before age 40 certainly and may need other kinds of screening such as ultrasound or breast MRI."
Dr. Paredes also reminds women to do monthly breast self-exams. Be sure to examine the entire breast tissue, up to the collar bone and under each arm.
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