From an interview with
Dr. Amy Murrell
PeeDee Surgical Group
Women should begin getting their annual mammograms at age 40. Before the age of 40, the incidence of breast cancer is relatively low. At age 40 is when that number starts to increase. The only exception for earlier mammograms is for women who have a high-risk family history, which would mean if a woman has a mother or a sister who had breast cancer at an early age. We start screening those ladies at an earlier age than 40.
When a patient gets an abnormal mammogram, that doesn’t necessarily mean she has breast cancer. The next step would be for us to do further workup – either ultrasound or more mammograms. Then, if there continues to be an abnormality, the next step would be for the patient to have a needle biopsy, which the radiologist typically performs. If the result returns as breast cancer, the next step is for her to see a surgeon or an oncologist and to determine what the first step of treatment would be best in her particular case.
Most women qualify for what we call breast conservation or a lumpectomy, where we remove the cancer out of the breast and then leave the rest of their breast looking normal. Some women still prefer a mastectomy, or maybe they need a mastectomy to get rid of all the cancer. Then, those women, if they choose reconstruction, have great reconstructive options now. Breast surgery has definitely come a long way in the last 20 to 30 years.
At McLeod Health, we take care of about 400 women a year who are newly-diagnosed with breast cancer. We have a comprehensive program with a multi-faceted team of specialists, including reconstructive surgeons, radiation oncologists, medical oncologists, and our breast radiologists. I believe the team we have at McLeod Health is second to none in the state.
Every Wednesday morning, our team meets for our tumor board. All of those different doctors I mentioned, who have spent their careers taking care of women with breast cancer, meet and discuss every single patient who has been newly-diagnosed with breast cancer at McLeod. We review their X-rays, their pathology, and what we believe their best course of action, treatment-wise, should be.
To learn more, speak with a breast surgeon near you.