Breast Cancer Q & A

MALANTIC-LU WWWJFK Medical Center Celebrates Breast Cancer Awareness Month with an informative Q&A with Board Certified Radiologists, Grace Malantic-Lu, M.D.  Dr. Malantic-Lu is fellowship trained in breast imaging and the lead interpreting physician for breast imaging at The JFK Breast Center.

What does "dense breast tissue" mean and how do I know if I have it?
There has been much in the news lately regarding "dense breast tissue" and the concerns regarding risk of breast cancer as well as the inability of routine mammography to detect breast cancers in women with dense breast tissue.

First of all, it is important to understand what is being discussed when you hear the term dense breast tissue. Breast tissue is considered dense if it is comprised of more connective tissue and less fat. The concern with dense breast tissue is the associated increased risk and masking which occurs when dense tissue obscures a cancer. New Jersey's breast density law (which went into effect May 1, 2014) encourages dialogue with your physician regarding your breast density and whether further testing may be beneficial. Your mammogram report will include your breast density level.

Should I still have mammograms if I have dense breasts?
Yes. A screening mammogram is shown to be effective in decreasing breast cancer mortality for all breast densities. It is the best test that can reliably detect suspicious calcifications.

I've heard it isn't necessary to have mammograms every year, is that true?
No, the American Cancer Society and American College of Radiology (among others) recommends that all women have yearly mammograms beginning at age 40. Mammography is still the gold standard screening test for detection of breast cancer for women of all breast densities.

What do I do if my mammogram isn't normal?
The JFK Breast Center offers a Certified Nurse Navigator to assist a patient through the mammography process. She helps each patient schedule their biopsies, discuss each step along the way, and gives personal attention to each patient. For women dealing with breast cancer, Navigator support at JFK's Breast Center can help alleviate much of the anxiety and uncertainty that accompany the diagnosis of what is, after non-melanoma skin cancer, the most common women's cancer in the United States.

No one in my family has breast cancer, why do I need mammograms?
Family history is only one risk factor for breast cancer. Other risk factors – besides simply being a woman - are age and genetics. About 85% of breast cancers occur in women who have no family history of breast cancer.

I'm afraid it's going to hurt!
As a Soft Touch Provider, the JFK Breast Center uses a Mammopad® cushion on all of our patients to decrease discomfort during the mammogram. Some other suggestions are to avoid caffeine products for 24-48 hours prior to the test, scheduling the exam toward the latter part of your menstrual cycle. If it is ok with your physician, taking a mild pain reliever prior to the test may also help.

What specific breast services does JFK Medical Center provide?
The JFK Breast Center offers "one stop" services all under one roof @ the JFK Imaging Center for your entire breast healthcare needs. Digital mammography, breast ultrasound, breast MRI and core biopsies under all the imaging modalities are available at one site. We are certified by the FDA and accredited by the American College of Radiology in mammography and breast MRI and Stereotactic biopsy. The JFK Breast Center prides itself on excellent patient satisfaction scores and is a designated Soft Touch Provider facility.

In addition, The Nurse Navigator is designed to reduce the amount of time, anxiety and inconvenience a woman may experience from the moment she discovers a breast abnormality to diagnosis and follow-up. The nurse will serve as patient advocate and educator; She will provide information and reassurance during the treatment decision process, identify hospital and community resources, and coordinate appointments among numerous specialists.