By Annette Pinder
The daughter of a local retired OB/GYN, Dr. Anna M. Chen understood the importance of women’s health at an early age. Now a radiologist devoted to early detection, Dr. Chen is helping patients live long, fulfilling lives by detecting their breast cancer at its earliest stages. Dr. Chen answered the following frequently asked questions about breast cancer screening.
Do you recommend 3D mammography (tomosynthesis) for everyone? Yes, now covered by most insurances, tomosynthesis is a more detailed exam. It can more easily detect breast cancer. The radiation dose for 3D is similar to the standard 2D mammogram.
Are other tests available, in addition to mammography? Yes, ultrasound offers another way of looking at breast tissue. While there is no radiation associated with ultrasound, it can have a high false positive rate. Ultrasound is really used as a supplemental test in conjunction with mammography for women who have dense breasts that are not considered high risk. Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) offers a way to see things differently. However, an MRI is only recommended as a supplemental screening exam for women in the high-risk category.
How is Windsong improving access for breast cancer screening in WNY?
Windsong’s Mobile 3D Mammography Unit makes it even easier to get your annual mammogram. It travels to all eight counties of WNY — Allegany, Cattaraugus, Chautauqua, Erie, Genesee, Niagara, Orleans and Wyoming. The experience on the mobile unit is similar to the care you would receive at any one of Windsong’s locations. Call 716-929-9494 or visit www.windsongwny.com/mobile to schedule an appointment.
How can genetic testing be helpful? Genetic testing can help determine if you are at increased risk for developing breast cancer. In addition to BRCA1/2, many other important genes are studied to determine breast cancer risk. Our Certified Genetic Counselor, Laura Fisher, consults with patients on their personal and/or family history of breast cancer to determine if they are appropriate candidates for testing. Insurance companies typically cover testing for those patients.
What can we expect in the future? The field of imaging is extremely dynamic. One test to watch for is an abbreviated MRI, conducted in as little as three minutes. Another is contrast-enhanced mammography, which requires contrast injection in the vein. Both of these tests show great promise, and their use depends greatly on breast cancer physiology. Current clinical studies are underway.
Do you have a general message for all women? Windsong is continuously setting new standards in breast imaging. We believe that all women should begin testing starting at 40, regardless of risk. Screening may be necessary at an earlier age for those who have a family history of breast cancer. Women who are younger should pay attention to anything that appears abnormal or unusual, and talk to their health providers about getting screened.
To make an appointment for a mammogram call Windsong at 716-631-2500. To make an appointment for genetic testing, call 626-6300. Learn more at www.windsongradiology.com.