November 1, 2021 – Life is busy, there’s no doubt about it.
Work projects pile up, children need to be shuffled from school to extracurricular
activities, pets need to go to the vet and the car needs servicing. Wearing
invisible capes, women find the time to do everything that’s necessary
to care for their families – so why postpone getting a mammogram?
After all, isn’t it just as important to care for yourself as much
as you care for others?
“A mammogram can detect breast cancer early, as much as two years
before it is detectable by touch,” shares
Stephen G. Barrett, M.D., a board-certified general surgeon specializing in breast health at
Southeast Georgia Physician Associates-General & Vascular Surgery and a member of the
Southeast Georgia Health System medical staff.
Barret adds, “Breast cancer is a very treatable disease, especially
when caught early.”
According to the American Cancer Society, a mammogram is recommended annually
for women starting at age 40. However, women with a strong family history
of breast cancer are considered high risk and should consult with their
physician to determine if they should begin getting mammograms earlier
than the recommended age.
Southeast Georgia Health System is committed to providing the communities
it serves with the highest possible standard of care using advanced technology.
In 2019, the Health System began providing an innovative screening method
at its breast imaging locations:
Genius 3D Mammography™ exams using the MammoPad® breast cushion and SmartCurve™ breast
The Genius 3D Mammography exam, developed by Hologic, Inc., a worldwide
leader in Women’s Health, utilizes advanced breast tomosynthesis
technology to obtain high-resolution, limited-angle images. Genius 3D
exams are clinically proven to significantly increase the detection of
breast cancers and are quickly becoming recognized as the highest standard
of care for breast cancer screenings.
The MammoPad breast cushion creates a warmer, softer and more comfortable
mammogram experience. Mammography technologists report that the MammoPad
breast cushion makes it easier for patients to relax. This enables technologists
to better position the breast and capture more tissue during the screening
for the best imaging results.
The SmartCurve breast stabilization system features a curved surface that
mirrors the shape of a woman's breast to reduce pinching and better
distribute pressure over the entire breast, making the exam more comfortable.
In a recent clinical study comparing SmartCurve to traditional flat paddle
compression, the SmartCurve system improved comfort in 93% of women who
reported moderate to severe discomfort with standard compression.
A Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) published national
clinical trial found that breast cancer screening using Hologic tomosynthesis
in combination with digital mammography detected 40% more invasive cancers
than 2D digital mammography alone and is particularly helpful in finding
breast cancer in women with dense breasts—breasts that have a lot
of fibrous or glandular tissue and not much fat. These types of mammograms
give doctors a clearer image of breast tissue and can help detect small
tumors that may remain hidden on a 2D mammogram.
The most common misconception when it comes to mammograms is that they
are painful. According to Karen S. Crosby R.N., BSN, nurse navigator at
the Health System’s Breast Care Center, “Everyone’s
pain threshold is different, but the compression performed during a mammogram
is most often described as only a temporary discomfort.”
Getting a 3D mammogram doesn’t feel any different than getting a
conventional 2D mammogram. It requires no additional breast compression,
and it takes just a few seconds longer to complete.
Crosby recommends that patients avoid scheduling their mammograms the week
before their periods when breasts are tender or swollen to help reduce
Another misconception Crosby has encountered is that some women believe
mammograms cause cancer. Crosby clarifies, “The risk of harm from
a mammogram is extremely low as they use minimal doses of radiation –
similar to getting an x-ray.”
Crosby offers advice on how patients should prepare to get a mammogram.
“Patients should try to go to the same facility every time so mammograms
can easily be compared from year to year, reducing unnecessary callbacks.
However, if a patient has records at a different facility, try to get
those records to bring with you to the new facility or have them sent
there so that the radiologist can compare the old pictures to the new
Patients should not wear deodorant on the exam day as the deodorant can
show up as white spots on the x-ray.
Crosby believes that Breast Cancer Awareness Month is crucial, noting,
“It increases our awareness and early detection through regular
screenings. Breast cancer deaths continue to decline thanks to our heightened
awareness and early detection.”
Barrett adds, “Women diagnosed with breast cancer can take comfort
in knowing that the Health System offers advanced care and experts with
specialized training in breast health. We have a full complement of services
and surgeons, oncologists and radiation oncologists, along with a wonderful
Southeast Georgia Health System offers 3D mammograms at the Breast Care
Center on the Brunswick Campus, the Medical Plaza across from the Brunswick
Campus, the Women’s Imaging on the Camden Campus and in the Wellness
on Wheels (WOW) mobile health vehicle. Conventional mammograms continue
to be an option at Southeast Georgia Health System as well.
Most major health insurance plans cover 3D mammograms. If you have questions
about this important breast health procedure, please call 912-466-5234.
To schedule a mammogram, please call 912-466-1240.