Streams

More Information About Mammograms

Thursday, June 14, 2012

JoAnn Pushkin, breast cancer survivor and executive director for Are You Dense Advocacy and founder of Density Education National Survivors' Effort (D.E.N.S.E.), talks about a bill in Albany which would require that mammography reports include information about breast density.

Guests:

JoAnn Pushkin

Comments [24]

"Also if your doctor does not share important information with you, find another doctor!" True, but as JoAnn said, women don't know what they don't know (emphasis on what). They don't know that the doctor is withholding information that they don't need, as I didn't in 2009. Hence the need for the bill.

The bill has to pass codes committee and rules committee before it comes to a vote, with little time in the legislative session. So again, find your assembly member http://assembly.state.ny.us/mem/?sh=search
and tell her/him to support the breast density disclosure law S6769A/A9586C

Hallie Leighton
http://www.informwomen.org (blog tracking the NY legislation)

Jun. 14 2012 12:48 PM

Sorry the link did not go through on my last post

Find your assembly member here http://assembly.state.ny.us/mem/?sh=search

and tell her/him to support the breast density disclosure law S6769A/A9586C

Track the NY legislation on my blog: http://www.informwomen.org

Hallie

Jun. 14 2012 11:44 AM
JoAnn/Are You Dense Advocacy, Inc. from NY

If you have dense breasts and have been denied insurance coverage for additional screening after your mammogram, please contact us: www.AreYouDenseAdvocacy.org, look for "Contact Us" button, top right.

Jun. 14 2012 11:44 AM
stealinghope from NY, NY

Relative to the forces of commerce influencing (big picture) medicine (and little picture) the cancer facet/industry of medical care: The mission of MSKCC is nonpareil and most of its employees are selfless and truly care. However, there are clinicians, suits and researchers in high places (some at Sloan) who inappropriately drop their guard and act selfishly to a fault. This is hurtful as these people clearly know better. Remember the statement: “Sloan is pursuing a systemic approach to reducing expenses and increasing revenues […] One example of this is discouraging terminally ill patients from seeking initial treatment or second opinions from the cancer center […] the admission of such patients is counterproductive […] to Sloan Kettering.” [paraphrasing salient features, MSKCC, CFO/Chief Financial Officer]. Sloan boasts as having the “best cancer care anywhere” … apparently as long as it's consistent with Sloan’s revenue stream and/or the potential profit of high profile non clinicians' stock portfolios.

Jun. 14 2012 11:38 AM

@Dorothy re "What's the woman going to do with the information that she has dense breasts?" Ask for a sonogram or an MRI as a follow up screening to mammogram.

(I have heard good things about the thermogram as a good follow up tool to the mammogram if it is available.) Also watch this TEDtalk about another potential future screening alternative to mammograms called molecular breast imaging: http://www.ted.com/talks/deborah_rhodes.html

@elisep "Does the density of the breast also affect the results of breast sonograms?" Not at all.

Susan from Manhattan: "Is there something in dense breasts that makes them more susceptible to cancer, or is it just that cancer is harder to detect in dense breasts?" Both. Although dense breast tissue is not abnormal, it is associated with greater risk, maybe because there is simply a lot more tissue.

Find your assembly member here and tell her/him to support the breast density disclosure law S6769A/A9586C

Hallie
http://www.informwomen.org

Jun. 14 2012 11:38 AM
JoAnn/Are You Dense Advocacy, Inc. from NY

In response to "Susan from Manhattan's" question about density as a risk factor: Breast density is BOTH a screening challenge as it masks tumors on a mammogram as well an independent risk factor for the development of breast cancer. According to the American College of Radiology: "Breast density in and of itself has been been shown by several studies to be an independent risk factor of the development of breast cancer, with the relative risk for women with the most dense breasts 2 to 6 times that of women with the least dense breasts."

Response to "Elisep from Manhattan" re: ultrasound/dense tissue. Ultrasounds are better able to penetrate dense tissue which is why the addition of a screening ultrasound after a mammogram for women with dense breasts doubles the number of cancers found by mammogram alone. Based on data out of CT, the first state with a Breast Density Inform Law enacted, these additional cancers, undetectable by mammogram but now found by ultrasound, were all early stage (stage 0 or 1) and invasive. Ultrasound is able to detect those cancers - early - which are most likely to grow, spread and ultimately kill.

To support NY legislation, please contact your state senator and assemblyperson to be sure they are signed on to the bill: A9586 / S6769.

Please visit www.areyoudense.org for information about density, please visit: www.AreYouDenseAdvocacy for information about legislative efforts or to contact your congressperson to support Federal Bill HR3102.

Jun. 14 2012 11:28 AM
Loreen from Nyack, NY

Why is there so little use and information about Thermography with respect to this issue...?!? Thermography was approved by the FDA in the 80's for breast screening. Not only does it NOT expose women to yearly radiation, it is as useful for women with dense, scarred or fibrous breasts as for women without these issues. And since it screens body temperature activity, it is VERY accurate in pinpointing any newly emerging blood supply systems that necessarily go with tumor growth. After a baseline is established, if used as a regular screening, it can give radiologists accurate information as to where they should look for possible tumor growth LONG before any such growth would read in even the best of mammograms. Please spread the word about this low-cost tool!!!

Jun. 14 2012 11:05 AM
chloe from single payer would impede the greed

this is not only an insurance issue, but the way the physicians practice, as mentioned. i am 38 and have been getting checked for years because of a disturbing armpit lump. the range of motion in my shoulder is severely impaired at this point, and because of my dense breast tissue my PCP always writes a referral to ultrasound.
show up at the clinic and it is like i'm asking for special treatment or something. i had to jump through hoops to get the sonic scan. the radiologist wouldn't even speak to me, yelled at the nurse that i should stop coming until i'm at least over 40, like i have some nerve.
YES, THAT NERVE IS BEING PRESSED IN MY ARM BY ABNORMAL TISSUE, look closer please!
i spend my daily yoga practice praying for peace as my one arm lags behind the lumpless one. crossing my numb fingers, hoping for the best, glad i decided not to have children since they would be raised with absolutely no faith is the system...

Jun. 14 2012 11:00 AM
Penny

I was fortunate to be told about this years ago, and began to have same-day mammogram-sonogram. Every time I change doctors, I have to convince them to order the tests this way, and it usually takes a couple of years of being sent back for retesting--then they get the point. The insurance companies definitely make it more difficult and present this as "unnecessary testing." As to why, remember that we've only recently graduated from female-hating general use of total mastectomy (with my apologies to the women who really needed them).

Jun. 14 2012 10:48 AM

Perhaps it depends on where a woman has her mammogram. I have dense breasts and was made aware of this from the radiologist at my very first mammogram years ago. In fact many times they redid certain views to take into account the nature of my breast tissue and make certain nothing unusual was present. This also happened recently when I had a mammogram at new radiology center who was unfamiliar with me. They even did an ultrasound to make verify that a section that appeared problematic was not. So perhaps mammography centers should be rated so woman can make informed decisions. Also if your doctor does not share important information with you, find another doctor!

Jun. 14 2012 10:42 AM
Nancy from Harlem

ALWAYS ask for copies of the medical REPORT that the mammo facility will send to your doctor. Then you'll have all the info, and can discuss it with your physician. You will also know if you mistakenly got a false-negative "all's OK" letter when actually you need follow-up.

Jun. 14 2012 10:42 AM
Jane from Brooklyn

Dorothy, you request a sonogram or breast thermography (as stated above)

Jun. 14 2012 10:42 AM
jana from manhattan

i'm with karen. thermography gives far superior detection as well as being a lot less physically damaging then mammagrams. why is this not the routine diagnostic tool?

Jun. 14 2012 10:41 AM
jana from manhattan

i'm with karen. thermography gives far superior detection as well as being a lot less physically damaging then mammagrams. why is this not the routine diagnostic tool?

Jun. 14 2012 10:40 AM
The Truth from Becky

Get a mammogram! Takes approx 30 seconds start to finish.

Jun. 14 2012 10:39 AM
Alexandria Black

I am a 43 yr old, nyrker woman also with dense breasts. I had to get multiple screenings and sonograms. Thank goodness I'm cleared for now, but will continue to need these tests annually. Only to have my insurance kick me back oodles of bills that MY family has to pay out of pocket, still coming from almost one year ago. It was necessary for them to do these tests but our blue cross coverage wouldn't cover these tests. REALLY aggravating....especially with our high insurance rates.

Jun. 14 2012 10:39 AM
elisep from Manhattan

Question about breast density and breast sonogram. Does the density of the breast also affect the results of breast sonograms?

Jun. 14 2012 10:39 AM
Susan from Manhattan

Please clarify: Is there something in dense breasts that makes them more susceptible to cancer, or is it just that cancer is harder to detect in dense breasts?

Jun. 14 2012 10:39 AM
Nancy from Harlem

An immediate solution would be for every patient to request the mammo provider to send her a copy of the medical REPORT that will be created for her referring physician, in addition to just the letter normally sent to patients. Some mammo facilities have a form you can fill out at your mammo appointment, to request the report; requests must be made in writing.

Getting the report is important also to ensure that you are correctly advised as to the outcome; there can be an error, mistakenly sending you an "A-OK" letter when a "follow-up is needed" letter should have been sent.

Jun. 14 2012 10:39 AM
Carol

How about promoting thermography? Has a higher early detection rate than mammograms.

Jun. 14 2012 10:37 AM
Victoria from Brooklyn

Will the bill include provisions for ultrasound follow-ups at no additional fee?

Jun. 14 2012 10:37 AM
Jane from Brooklyn

I have dense breast tissues, and my obgyn has been sending me for sonograms in conjunction with mammograms for years. They work much better than mammos, especially before the age of 40. I did have to have 4 biopsies over the years, because the doctors were not sure what they saw. They all came back negative. I just want to say that my doctors always informed me on my breast density. Breast density decreases with age, and my mammos are showing more now that I'm 45, than they did 10 years ago.

Jun. 14 2012 10:37 AM
Dorothy from Manhattan

What's the woman going to do with the information that she has dense breasts?

Jun. 14 2012 10:36 AM
Karen from Westchester Cnty

Pls as guest to speak about Breast Thermography, which can detect things before a mammogram can, produces no radiation, and when used along with mammo's has an over 90 percent accuracy rate

Jun. 14 2012 10:35 AM

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