There’s a common misconception that only women with a family history of breast cancer are at risk of developing breast cancer. (Ladies, don’t believe everything you read!) Approximately 5-10% of breast cancers are thought to be hereditary, meaning the other 90-95% occur in patients with no known family history. If you haven’t done so and are in need of an annual screening mammograph, schedule that appointment! Not sure if now’s the time to begin thinking about your annual screening mammograms? No worries! UT Health Austin board-certified medical oncologist Tara Kaufmann, MD, MSCE, who specializes in treating patients with breast cancer, is happy to help!
“Generally, women at the age of 40 should speak to their primary care or OB/GYN doctor about whether they should begin scheduling annual screening mammograms. Guidelines differ on the age at which women should start screening mammograms and the decision to begin is a shared decision between you and your healthcare provider who takes into account your breast cancer risk factors. In general, guidelines recommend beginning annual screening mammograms for breast cancer between the ages of 40-50 years old,” explains Dr. Kaufmann. “If you have a strong family history of breast cancer involving a mother or sister, it is recommended that you begin scheduling screening mammographs when you reach 10 years younger than the age at which they were diagnosed or by the time you reach the age of 40, whichever comes first.”
UT Health Austin’s Livestrong Cancer Institutes has recently launched a Breast Cancer specialty that provides care for adult patients of all genders (yes, men can get breast cancer, too!) with a breast cancer diagnosis, including DCIS, early stage, recurrent, and advanced or metastatic breast cancers, as well as those patients who have inherited gene mutations that confer a high risk of developing a breast cancer, such as BRCA. Led by Dr. Kaufmann, the Breast Cancer care team is dedicated to coordinating patient care from the time of diagnostic biopsy, throughout treatment, and into survivorship.
“When you get screened for breast cancer regularly, you increase your chance of surviving a breast cancer diagnosis as screening mammograms can detect cancer at early stages, oftentimes revealing a lump before it is felt,” says Dr. Kaufmann. “When breast cancer is detected early at a localized stage, the cancer is treatable and has a high likelihood of being cured without the risk of the cancer returning. Between screenings, if you notice any new lumps, swelling, redness, skin changes, nipple discharge, or other symptoms in one or both breasts, you should reach out to your healthcare provider right away.”
UT Health Austin offers the latest in 3D mammography technology for screening mammograms. 3D mammography, also known as tomosynthesis, creates a 3D image of the breast using x-rays, allowing radiologists to receive a clearer image so that they can detect suspicious masses or cancer earlier. Additionally, tomosynthesis offers better imaging for women with dense breasts because the x-rays are taken from multiple angles around the breast.
“I’m excited to be a part of the growth taking place at UT Health Austin,” shares Dr. Kaufmann “and I look forward to experiencing the impact this new Breast Cancer specialty will make for patients with a breast cancer diagnosis in the Austin area and beyond.”
For more information about the new Breast Cancer specialty within UT Health Austin’s Livestrong Cancer Institutes or to schedule a screening mammogram, visit uthealthaustin.org or call 1-833-UT-CARES (1-833-882-2737).