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Thea Stoneman Breast Imaging and Diagnostic Center

at Brigham and Women's Faulkner Hospital

Frequently Asked Questions About Breast Imaging and Intervention

How do I schedule a mammogram?

Please call the Thea Stoneman Breast Imaging and Diagnostic Center at Brigham and Women’s Faulkner Hospital at 617-983-7272 to request an appointment for a mammogram. You will need to provide information including your name, date of birth, phone number, address and the name of the physician to whom we should send the report. If you have had images taken previously, you will be asked to bring those to your appointment.

How do I request my mammogram films?

For information on requesting your images from Brigham and Women's Faulkner Hospital, please click here. To request that another medical facility release your past films to Brigham and Women's Faulkner Hospital, please complete this form (PDF).

I am a woman who has never had a mammogram. At what age should I begin screenings?

You should begin scheduling annual baseline mammograms between ages 35 and 40. If, however, you have a first degree relative (mother or sister) who has been diagnosed with pre-menopausal breast cancer, you should start screenings 10 years prior to the age of that relative's diagnosis. For instance, if your mother was diagnosed with breast cancer at age 45, you should begin screenings at age 35. It is important to remember that mammography is only one part of breast cancer screening, which also includes regular physician check-ups and breast self-examinations.

What role does genetics play in breast cancer susceptibility?

Ten percent of all breast cancers are related to one of two abnormal genes known as BRCA1 and BRCA2. There is a 65 to 85 percent chance that a person with one of these genes will get breast cancer. We follow these patients closely with mammograms, ultrasound and MRI. Patients with these genes should speak with their primary care physician and a genetic counselor to discuss an appropriate course of action, which could include breast or ovary removal. There are many other risks to consider before a decision to operate is made.

What are some of the other major breast cancer risk factors?

Aside from having one of the two abnormal genes, there are three major risk factors that we must take into account. A woman is at greater risk for breast cancer if she has a first degree relative with breast cancer, if she has had a biopsy that shows atypical changes in the breast or if she has previously been diagnosed with breast cancer. It is imperative, however, to keep in mind that two-thirds of all breast cancers occur in women who have no significant risk factors.

How is MRI used for breast cancer screening? Is it used as an alternative to mammography?

MRI can be used for patients with newly diagnosed breast cancer prior to surgery to evaluate the extent of the disease and to help plan the appropriate surgery. It is also used prior to surgery to evaluate tumor response in patients being treated with chemotherapy. MRI functions as a problem-solving tool when a patient has a lump that cannot be seen with mammography or ultrasound, or when mammography leads to ambiguous findings. The usefulness of MRI as a screening tool is being evaluated in clinical trials. It may be found to be helpful for patients who are at high risk for breast cancer, or who have dense breast tissue. Most importantly, MRI is to be used in addition to, not as a replacement for, mammography.

Why inform me now that my breasts are dense, and why wasn’t it discussed previously?

Doctors have known for years that mammograms were much better at detecting breast cancers in women with fatty breast (60 percent) as compared to women with dense breasts. It is only recently that technologies have become readily available to address the issue and the need for additional screening in women with dense breasts.

If I get an ultrasound or an MRI, can I stop doing yearly mammograms?

No, yearly mammograms are essential for all women 40 years old and older. It is the only test that will see new calcium deposits which are often the earliest indicators of an evolving breast cancer. Also, the screening mammogram is the only test that has been proven to reduce breast cancer mortality.

Can my child wait for me in the waiting room during my appointment?

Please arrange for appropriate supervision of your child during your visit. Children under twelve must not be left unattended in the waiting area. Staff are not permitted to supervise children at any time.

Brigham and Women's Faulkner Hospital

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