What You Need to Know About Breast Cancer Screening Now and for the Future

When detected early, breast cancer is a curable disease. A critically important part of early detection is getting regular screenings. If you have a strong family history of breast cancer, screening should be a regular component of your overall health care routine. It also helps to be aware of the different types of tests that may be used, helping you know your options for staying on top of your breast health.

Helmed by breast surgeons Dr. Leslie Memsic and Dr. Heather Richardson, Bedford Breast Center is a visionary concept designed by women, for women. Our physicians have a keen understanding of what it means to provide superior health care. We believe that knowledge is power, and the key to curing breast cancer is early detection. One of the easiest things women in Los Angeles, CA can do to preserve their health is to take advantage of the various methods of breast cancer screening available at our medical center. Our state-of-the-art facility offers screening tests including digital mammography and ultrasounds.

The Importance of Breast Cancer Screening

According to breastcancer.org, about 1 in 8 U.S. women will develop invasive breast cancer over the course of her lifetime. Besides lung cancer, breast cancer death rates for women in the U.S. are higher than those for any other cancer. 

In some cases, breast cancer is found after symptoms appear—but take note that many women with breast cancer have no symptoms at all. Cancer detected during a screening process is typically smaller compared to the tumors found when a patient is already showing symptoms. Various screening options can facilitate early detection, helping to ensure patients get the care they need sooner rather than later. Early detection and being proactive is key to surviving breast cancer. Regular breast cancer screenings can save your life. To learn more about early detection and breast cancer screening, visit pubmed.gov.

Self-Examinations

Different tests can be used to look for and diagnose breast cancer, and the most basic method of screening is through breast self-exams. A breast self-exam or BSE is a visual and physical inspection of your own breast. Any woman can and should perform this exam to look for changes and/or problems with the breast. You can do this in just a few minutes and in the comfort of your own home, while you stand or lie down. Check your breasts for any unusual distortions, lumps, changes in shape, and nipple discharge. While more advanced screening procedures such as mammograms can help you detect cancer before you can feel a lump, self-breast exams help you become familiar with how your breasts look and feel so you can alert your doctor if there are any changes. 40% of diagnosed breast cancers cases are detected by women who feel a lump in their breast first and go to the doctor for testing, so establishing a regular breast self-exam once a month is important.

In-Office Breast Cancer Screening

If you are unsure about performing your own breast exam, you may choose to come into our Beverly Hills office for a clinical breast exam, during which one of our doctors will examine your breast. These exams should be part of your regular routine, but always alongside conventional screening methods such as clinical exams and/or mammography.

A mammogram is an x-ray image of the breast that shows changes in the tissue, new lumps, or tiny clusters of calcium that can be the first signs of cancer that cannot be felt or seen on an MRI, ultrasound, or breast self-exam. Routine screening mammography has long been the gold standard for screening breast cancer in the earliest stages when the disease is most treatable. But recently, the 3D mammogram has revolutionized mammography.

Bedford Breast Center is pleased to be able to offer our patients 3D mammography at our Beverly Hills, CA medical center. While traditional 2D mammography takes only one static image with each pass, a 3D mammogram can provide a more complete view of the breast by taking images of multiple breast tissue slices in each pass. When the images are viewed together, they recreate a 3D image of the breast, making it easier to detect very small tumors that may be obscured in a 2D mammogram, as well as reducing the chance of a false positive.

If your mammogram detects a suspicious mass or if you discover a lump in a manual breast exam, an ultrasound breast exam will likely be the next step in diagnosis. Most lumps and masses are benign, but any suspicious mass must be diagnosed. A breast ultrasound is a non-invasive procedure that uses sound waves to create images of the internal structures of one’s breast. It is safe and does not use radiation, and it is the only way to determine if a detected mass is a cyst.

Breast Cancer Testing

There are advanced testing methods to further study the nature of a lump found in the breast as well as determine if you have changes (mutations) in your DNA that increase your risk of breast cancer.

A breast biopsy is a simple medical procedure performed to identify the nature of a lump in the breast. We remove a sample of breast tissue and send it to a laboratory for testing. This is the best way to determine whether a suspicious mass is cancerous.

On the other hand, we can also perform genetic testing to look for changes in genes, because some women inherit mutations in certain genes that increase their risk of breast cancer (and possibly other cancers). If you have a family history of breast cancer and have been assessed as being high risk, you may want to consider genetic testing to find out if you have inherited an altered gene. The most common inherited altered genes are BRCA1 and BRCA2. BRCA genetic testing involves a simple saliva test or blood sample.

The Future of Early Detection 

Technological advances and the advent of precision medicine are creating new opportunities for improvements in both screening and early detection. In addition to imaging, doctors are now looking into blood tests for cancer/tumor markers to detect cancer activity in the body. How can a blood test detect cancer? Tumors shed different types of matter such as proteins into the bloodstream, and these telltale signs may help a simple blood test detect cancer. Doctors may perform a blood marker test before a treatment to help diagnose breast cancer and determine whether it has spread to other parts of the body. Researchers have even referred to the method of blood marker testing as a form of a “liquid biopsy.” While blood marker tests are not absolutely conclusive, they are promising techniques that could pave the way for quick, effective, and minimally invasive screening methods.

Bedford Breast Center is a world-class facility in Beverly Hills, CA dedicated to screening, early detection, cancer treatment, and reconstructive surgery by adopting the latest in cutting-edge technologies and techniques to continue providing superior care to our patients, so we will continue to watch this developing testing method and how it could serve our patients.

Why Choose Bedford Breast Center for Your Breast Cancer Screening? 

The combination of annual breast exams at an accredited Los Angeles, CA breast care facility and monthly breast self-exams is vital to ensure that any cancer is detected in its earliest stage. Our breast care center is accredited and can deliver among the most professionally evaluated breast cancer screening that Beverly Hills, CA provides. Bedford Breast Center was created to provide state-of-the-art, individually tailored patient care in a warm and supportive environment. We also provide the most advanced technologies in breast screening methods, such as 3D mammography.

As with any breast imaging, a breast ultrasound or mammogram is highly dependent on the skill level and experience of the doctor interpreting the images. Our Los Angeles imaging team led by Dr. Richardson is known for their superior diagnostic skills, detailed analysis, and caring manner. They make time for you, ensuring that you are well cared for and that all of your questions are answered. 

Schedule a Breast Cancer Screening at Our Medical Center Today

Early diagnosis is the best defense against breast cancer, so take charge of your health by getting screened regularly. To learn more, contact Bedford Breast Center in Los Angeles, CA to schedule an appointment.