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Breast Cancer & Mammography

Virginia Hospital Center now offers the latest in breast cancer screening. This new test is call breast tomosynthesis or 3D (three-dimensional) mammography. For more information on scheduling and fees, please call 703.558.8500.

What You Should Know About Breast Cancer

Virginia Hospital Center encourages women to be actively involved in monitoring their own health and taking preventive measures against breast cancer. In recent years, the early detection of breast cancer has saved the lives of thousands of women across the United States.

Breast cancer is the most common cancer diagnosed in women and it is the second leading cause of cancer death, after lung cancer. However, when detected early, breast cancer is very treatable.

Women over age 20 should be aware of the warning signs and risk factors for breast cancer. When a lump is detected, it is most often NOT cancer. In fact, 70 percent of all breast lumps are benign. But, it is important for women to understand the importance of self-examinations and early cancer detection. Mammograms and regular breast examinations continue to be the best ways to detect breast cancer, and should be performed according to the American Cancer Society screening guidelines* listed below.

Virginia Hospital Center is proud to offer a totally digital mammography center. Digital mammography assists in the early detection of breast cancer by incorporating modern electronics and computers into x-ray mammography methods. Instead of acquiring an image on film, it is collected electronically and can be stored directly into a computer, allowing for the most sophisticated and expedited care.

If diagnosed with breast cancer, a woman at Virginia Hospital Center will have expert doctors and surgeons immediately available so that she can take steps toward treatment on the spot. This comprehensive approach is the Hospital's distinction among other local facilities, where patients often experience multiple appointments and a long, anxiety-filled treatment process.

Addressing the psychosocial need of breast cancer patients is an integral part of diagnosis, treatment, research and follow-up care at Virginia Hospital Center. Our Cancer Resource Center is a place of healing, specifically designed to address the questions, concerns, worries, fears and hopes that accompany every woman who is diagnosed. Nurses and social workers offer one-on-one care while support groups offer education - emotional support and friendship.

Early Detection Of Breast Cancer

Through self-examination, mammography and clinical breast examination (CBE) by your doctor, breast cancers are being detected earlier than ever before. If you would like to make an appointment for a mammogram, please call 703.558.8500.

Self-Examination

You should learn how to perform monthly breast self-examinations. Many women who have gone through menopause find performing an exam every month on a certain day helpful. If you still menstruate, the best time to do it is five days after the start of your period. Breast self-exams are NOT a substitute for mammography or examination by a clinician, however.

Advanced Technology

CAD is a "computer assisted diagnosis". The technology provides a digital mammographic image that is accessed on a computer screen. Software then searches for abnormal areas of density, mass, or calcification that may indicate the presence of cancer. The CAD system highlights these areas on the image, alerting the radiologist to the need for further analysis. At Virginia Hospital Center, CAD and digital mammography technology work together to provide a more accurate, less cumbersome approach to cancer detection and diagnosis.

Warning Signs

By performing regular monthly exams, you will become familiar with the normal bumps you feel in your breast, and be better able to detect any changes. Call your doctor if you notice changes such as:

  • Thickening or swelling of breast tissue
  • Any dimpling or distortion of the breast
  • Skin irritation or scaliness of the breast
  • Tenderness of the nipple, nipple discharge
  • Change in size or color of the breast or nipple
  • Lump in the breast or under the arm

Risk Factors

As you get older, your risk of breast cancer increases. Your risk increases if you:

  • Are over 50 years old
  • Have had breast cancer
  • Have a mother, grandmother or sister who has had breast cancer
  • Began menstruation before you were 12 years old
  • Stopped having periods after you were 55 years old
  • Eat a diet that is high in fat
  • Are very overweight
  • Have never been pregnant
  • Had your first baby after you were 30 years old
  • Are on estrogen replacement therapy

*Screening Guidelines

Virginia HospitalCenter follows the guidelines of the American Cancer Society in recommending the following schedule:

  • Women age 20 and older: Monthly breast self examinations (BSE)
  • Women age 20 to 40: BSE and Clinical breast examination by a doctor every year
  • Women age 40 and older: BSE and clinical exam plus mammogram screening every year
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1701 N. George Mason Drive | Arlington, VA 22205-3698 | tel 703.558.5000
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