American College of Breast Surgeons Recommends Annual Mammograms

(September 24, 2019 - Carroll Township, Pa.)

October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Natalie Furgiuele, M.D. F.A.C.S., breast surgeon at Monongahela Valley Hospital, encourages women to know their risk for breast cancer and take the appropriate actions.

"There is a great deal of conflicting information circulating in the media; that's why I feel it is so important for women to know their risks and to have their annual mammograms," explained Dr. Furgiuele.

The American Society of Breast Surgeons (ASBrS) recommends that every woman should be aware of its Breast Cancer Screening Guidelines and Recommendations.

The first guideline states:
  • Women age 25 and older are advised to undergo a formal risk assessment for breast cancer. Based on the assessment, genetic testing may be suggested.

People are born with the BRCA1 (breast cancer gene 1) and BRCA2 (breast cancer gene 2) genes. When functioning normally, these genes do not pose any risk to their health. However, some people experience mutations of these genes. Those who have BRCA mutations have a 50 to 85 percent chance of developing breast cancer.

Monongahela Valley Hospital (MVH) is one of only a few hospitals in the region that performs a risk assessment for every woman prior to her screening mammogram. If the assessment reveals a high risk, genetic testing is recommended.

ASBrS' second guideline states:
  • Women who have an average risk of breast cancer should undergo yearly screening mammography beginning at age 40.

Women with non-dense breast tissue should begin annual screening mammograms at age 40. The preference is 3-D mammograms for women of average risk. ASBrS advises those with dense breast tissue to have annual 3-D mammograms with supplemental imaging — MRI.

Monongahela Valley Hospital offers walk-in screening 3-D mammograms at the Hospital's Carroll Township Campus and at HealthPlex Imaging in the Monongahela Valley HealthPlex in Rostraver Township. HealthPlex Imaging also offers walk-in mammograms on Tuesday evenings and Saturday mornings.

The Breast Care Center at Monongahela Valley Hospital provides the latest diagnostic technologies and treatment therapies in one convenient location.

ASBrS' third guideline states:
  • Women with a higher risk for breast cancer are advised to undergo yearly screening mammography and yearly supplemental imaging -- an MRI is favored.

A strong family history of breast cancer (mother, sister, daughter) creates a higher risk. Women who may be susceptible due to heredity should consider an MRI beginning at age 25 and an annual 3-D mammogram at age 30. ASBrS recommends the introduction of supplemental imaging at age 35 when recommended by the physician.

ASBrS also provides guidelines for women with a prior history of breast cancer. For those who had breast cancer under age 50 with dense breasts, ASBrS recommends an annual 3-D mammogram with access to annual supplemental imaging. Women with prior history of breast cancer who are over age 50 with non-dense breasts are encouraged to have annual 3-D mammograms.

Dr. Furgiuele summed up the recommendations. "The one key take away that every woman should remember is mammograms save lives. When breast cancer is detected and treated in its earliest stages, the outcomes are more positive. If you fall within one of the ASBrS groups, get an annual mammogram and the supplemental testing if necessary. Do it for yourself and your loved ones."

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