Digital mammography can detect early-stage breast cancer. If you're a woman 40 years of age or older, you should have a mammogram every year.

A physician order is required for mammography. To find a doctor, call 844.GO.SOVAH.

Have an order? Pre-register here or call the Breast Center at (276) 666-7561. 

Learn more about the Julius Hermes Breast Care Center at Sovah Health - Martinsville.

What is Mammography?

A mammogram is a low-dose x-ray of the breast. It is effective in detecting breast disease in its earliest stages. A mammogram can detect a tumor much earlier than it can be felt, resulting in a greater chance for successful treatment.

The Julius Hermes Breast Care Center offers state-of-the-art digital mammography with Computer Aided Detection (CAD). Studies have found that digital mammograms are more accurate than conventional mammograms in finding cancer in women younger than 50 and in women with dense breast tissue. 

What is Stereotactic Breast Biopsy?

Increased use of screening mammography and improvement in mammography techniques have resulted in early detection of very small lesions in breast tissue. If a breast abnormality is identified by mammography, breast ultrasound, or clinical examination, a biopsy will determine if the abnormality is cancerous.

The Julius Hermes Breast Care Center offers a less invasive breast biopsy system. Stereotactic breast biopsy uses the guiding capabilities of a computer as well as a specialized biopsy needle to obtain tissue samples. The procedure is performed on an outpatient basis, requiring only local anesthesia. No stitches are required, and the results are usually available in 1-2 days. This procedure offers a simple, quick, less painful, and less expensive alternative to surgical biopsy.

Lowering Your Risk

Breast cancer strikes women of all ages and backgrounds. One must remember that all women are at risk. Presently there is no way of preventing breast cancer, but there are ways of increasing your chances of being a breast cancer survivor and not a victim. While breast self-examination, clinical breast examination, and mammography have limitations, together they form an important screening triad for the early detection of breast cancer. Guidelines for the early detection of breast cancer:

Age 20 - 39

  • Monthly breast self-examination
  • Clinical breast examination by a doctor or nurse every one to three years
Age 40+
  • Monthly breast self-examination
  • Annual clinical breast examination by a doctor or nurse
  • Annual mammography

Unlike colorectal cancer, which can be prevented via the removal of polyps during a colonoscopy, there is no sure way to prevent breast cancer. But there are steps women can take that might reduce their risk of breast cancer, or at least help them find it in its earliest, most curable stages. These steps include:

  • Maintain a healthy body weight
  • Regular exercise
  • Limit alcohol use
  • If you are over the age of 40, have an annual mammogram
Women who breast-feed their children for several months or do not use post-menopausal hormone therapy (PHT) may also reduce their breast cancer risk.

Most doctors feel that early detection tests for breast cancer save thousands of lives each year, and that many more lives could be saved if even more women and their health care providers took advantage of these tests.

Other Breast Cancer Facts

  • The average patient's age with a new breast cancer diagnosis is 62. Living longer increases one's risk. Risk rises after age 40, which is why annual mammograms are recommended by the American Cancer Society for women over the age of 40.
  • American Caucasian women develop breast cancer more often than African American, Native American, or Asian women.
  • Women who have had breast cancer on one side face an increased risk of getting cancer in the other breast. This is particularly true when breast cancer genetic risk is inherited.
  • One's risk increases if there is a strong family history of breast cancer. This is true if there are relatives on either the maternal or paternal sides who have been affected. Risk is higher if there are multiple relatives who have had breast cancer, if the relatives are "first-degree" relatives - mother, sister, daughter, and if the relatives were diagnosed at a pre-menopausal age.
  • Studies suggest that the longer a woman is exposed to estrogen, the more likely she is to develop breast cancer. This includes estrogen made by the body, taken as a drug, or delivered by a patch. Also at increased risk are women who began their periods before age 12, never had children, took hormone replacement therapy for long periods of time, or experienced menopause after age 55.
  • Women who have their first child after age 30 have a greater risk.
  • Five to ten percent of women who develop breast cancer are born with a mutation in breast-cancer-susceptibility genes BRCA1 and BRCA2.
  • Families with inherited susceptibility to breast cancer generally have multiple generations affected, a higher incidence of ovarian and other gynecologic cancers, male breast cancer, or onset of cancer in young individuals. Genetic testing and counseling can be done in affected or unaffected family members if warranted. Certain genes routinely keep breast cells from dividing and growing out of control and forming tumors. When these genes become altered, changes occur and a cell no longer can grow correctly. Genetic changes may be inherited from either parent.

A physician order is required for mammography. To find a doctor, call 844.GO.SOVAH.