Knowledge is Power
January 20th, 2011
Knowledge is power and in the case of our health knowledge is often life saving. I recently came across an excellent article in the Huffington Post written by Dr. Nalini Chilkov on the topic “Are Mammograms enough to save Women from Breast cancer?”. The ideas in this article were so compelling I really felt I wanted to share them with all of my readers many of whom are women.
When I was about 32 weeks pregnant with my son I felt a lump in my right breast. It was a frightening experience. The options for diagnosis and treatment are obviously limited when you are pregnant and this made it even more challenging. After receiving an ultrasound it was confirmed that this was an engorged milk duct and not a breast tumor. When my son, Nicholas, couldn’t wait to get into the world and was born early at 34 weeks gestation it became evident as to why I would have an engorged milk duct that early.
Fortunately for me there was no problem but the experience was scary. It got me thinking about how many other women have had similar experiences of fear. Therefore when I read this article about how mammograms are effective for some women and not others I wanted to share the knowledge with all of you.
It seems that breast cancer screening should be individualized depending on breast density. All women should know their breast density so they can choose the most effective screening tool for them. High breast density is a strong risk factor for breast cancer. Women with dense breasts get lumps that are hard to find on a mammogram. Mammography alone is not sufficient screening for early detection in these women.
If you have dense breasts the better diagnostic test for you is Molecular Breast Imaging (MBI) or a breast MRI. The problem is that most of us do not know if we fall into the “dense breast” category.
The easiest way to find this out is to ask for a copy of your mammography report. On this report there is always a comment on breast density. This is really a piece of knowledge that could save your life.
See the following clip of Dr. Rhodes discussing this issue at a recent TED conference. She explains how she helped invent MBI and shows the dramatic results of the technique. Unfortunately this new technology is years away from being widely used so she gives tips on lowering your risk of a missed diagnosis.
Mammography is still a great screening tool and will detect 80% of cancers in women with breasts of lower density, but if you do fall into the high density breast category make sure you discuss other screening possibilities with your doctor.
« Does Success Make You Happy or Does Being Happy Make You Successful? | What’s on Your Life List? »