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Ask the BJC Expert

Ask the BJC Expert

Breast Health Awareness

Meredith Byers, MD

Published on Wednesday, October 12, 2016

What is the importance of breast health awareness?

We are becoming better at treating and diagnosing breast cancer, but it is such a common disease and touches so many of us personally. October is Breast Health Awareness Month and a great time to remind all women to have yearly screening mammograms. Many of us forget, or put it off, or maybe missed a year. This is really a month to remind yourself to go have your mammogram.

Are there risk factors to breast cancer?

The three biggest risk factors are things we can’t control:

  • Gender – females are 100x more likely than males to develop breast cancer;
  • Age – we’re only getting older; and
  • Family History – we can’t control the history of our family members that may have had cancer.


We try to focus on risk factors we can control:

  • Maintain a healthy weight;
  • Have a diet rich in fruits and vegetables and anti-oxidants;
  • Decrease or eliminate alcohol intake – the risk of breast cancer goes up significantly if you consume two or more alcoholic drinks/day;
  • Engage in healthy exercise 30 minutes/day, 5 days/week. 

 

Can men contract breast cancer?

Yes.  Men have the same risk factors as women and can be diagnosed with it just as women can, and go through the same treatment as women.

What type of screenings should be considered?

We recommend yearly screening mammograms beginning at age 40.  We are fortunate to be able to provide our patients with 3-D mammography, which is an improved and more inclusive mammogram.  We can offer every patient a 2-D mammogram as well, which is the standard mammogram most women have been through.

Can you explain 3 D Mammography and its advantages?

We have been doing 3-D mammograms for about 3 years now, we have a vast amount of experience with it.  Where traditional 2-D mammography takes 2 images of each breast, 3-D mammography allows us to several “slices” of images through the breast, which allows us to look at several pictures and view the breast in detail.  It’s amazing, the improvement it provides over 2-D mammography.  It allows us to detect smaller cancers earlier, it allows us to better screen women with dense breasts or difficult to read mammograms, and it also decreases the number of people we have to call back for additional imaging because it really allows to see greater detail than we have before.

2-D mammography is an excellent test, and it’s our single best test in detecting breast cancer, but if you desire the 3-D mammography, it is something we can provide you at your screening mammogram visit.


Dr. Meredith Byers is a diagnostic radiologist, assistant professor at Mallinckrodt Institute of Radiology, and co-director of the Breast Health and Women's Center at Barnes-Jewish St. Peters Hospital.

Contact the Breast Health and Women's Center at 636.916.9541.

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