PEMBROKE PINES, Fla. – In the Women's Imaging Center at Memorial West Hospital in Pembroke Pines, Dr. Elitsa Ivanova, a diagnostic radiologist, spends her days reviewing mammograms captured by the latest technology, 3D imaging.
"It's basically mammography with tomosynthesis where we can see all areas of the breast, which decreases the number of false positives," Ivanova said.
Years of data clearly show that screening mammography is the key to early detection and saving lives.
"Breast cancer mortality over the last 20 years has decreased by over 30 percent," Ivanova said.
Current guidelines recommend screening mammography begin at age 40 and continue every year thereafter. High-risk women, including those with a family history of breast cancer or a known gene mutation, should begin screening at age 35.
"Another consideration is that if you have a first-degree relative, like your mother or your sister, who was diagnosed at a particular age, you should begin screening 10 years earlier than that diagnosis. So if the first-degree relative was diagnosed at age 40, you would begin screening at age 30," Ivanova said.
Regular self-breast exams at home are also encouraged.
"Checking your breast is important because it's important to know what the breast feels like so you know if something new develops in the breast," Ivanova said. "However, screening mammography and a regular checkup with your physician are what really make the difference."
Memorial Health System also offers a special Veterans Affairs Services Program for female veterans.
"With the new Mission Act there is an extension to the community that allows you to be comfortable with going to a physician in the Memorial area because we have all these wonderful services," program coordinator Maureen Mata said.
The VA Services Program provides coordinated care between female veterans, their doctors at the VA and outside resources.
"I bridge the gap so there is continuity," Mata said.
To reach Memorial Healthcare’s VA Services, call 954-844-7126 or go to https://www.mhs.net/services/emergency-trauma.
To schedule a mammogram through Memorial Healthcare, call 954-276-5595 or go to www.mhs.net/services/women/breast-imaging/mammogram.