Breast Health Services
Sacred Heart HealthCare System understands the sensitive issues of breast health and the needs of women today. We provide comprehensive services and programs on a variety of breast health topics that include:
- Proper nutrition and its role in preventing cancer
- How genetics, family history, and risk factors, such as smoking, influence your risk for developing cancer
- The importance of breast self-examinations in detecting early signs of cancer
- The necessity for yearly mammograms for women 40 years of age and older and women at high risk for breast cancer
The Benefit of Early Detection
Breast cancer responds to treatment best when it is detected early. To protect yourself, be sure to get mammograms as recommended by your doctor and perform monthly breast self-examinations (BSE).
If a mammogram or BSE uncovers any new or unusual lumps in your breasts, don’t panic – most lumps are benign and not cancerous. Have your breasts examined by your doctor once every three years after age 20 and then every year after age 40. Regularly examining your breasts will help prevent any precancerous or cancerous conditions from growing undetected. A baseline mammogram is recommended for women under 40 years of age who have risk factors for breast cancer. Discuss with your doctor when you should begin having regular mammograms.
Breast Self-Examination (BSE)
By age 20, you should perform breast self-examinations (BSE) every month to familiarize yourself with your breasts’ texture and structure. Examine your breasts at the same time each month since premenstrual or menstrual changes can cause temporary lumps or unfamiliar textures. Look for dimpling or changes in shape or symmetry. The easiest place to perform a BSE may be in the shower using soap to enable your hands to smoothly move over your skin.
A mammogram is an X-ray of the breasts used to screen for breast abnormalities, such as lumps, cysts, or cancer. Commonly performed to help screen for or detect breast cancer, many small tumors can be found on a mammogram before they can be felt during a routine breast self-examination (BSE) or examination by a doctor. Though mammograms do not prevent breast cancer, they are a useful tool in detecting breast cancer as early as possible. Symptoms of breast cancer may include a lump or thickening in the breast, nipple discharge, or dimpling of the skin on one area of the breast.
By age 40, women should have their first mammogram. For women older than 50, yearly mammograms are recommended. Please discuss with your doctor about when you should have your first mammogram. When a mammogram detects a possible cancer, more testing is likely required to rule out a false positive result (cancer is not present). Tests such as an ultrasound or biopsy may be recommended to help confirm or dispute results.
Scheduling a Mammogram
Mammograms can be performed at Sacred Heart Hospital and Sacred Heart Imaging Northampton, an affiliate of Sacred Heart HealthCare System.
- To schedule a mammogram at Sacred Heart Hospital, please call One Call Scheduling at 610-776-5180.
- To schedule a mammogram at Sacred Heart Imaging Northampton, please call 610-262-6622.
Breast ultrasound is used to determine whether a lump is a cyst (a fluid-filled sac) or a solid mass. If a lump is found to be a cyst, the cyst is typically drained using a needle and syringe, a procedure known as aspiration. If the mass completely disappears after aspiration, no further treatment may be needed. Ultrasound can also be used to precisely locate the position of a detected tumor.
When you receive an ultrasound, a small amount of water-soluble gel will be applied to the skin over the area to be examined. A probe is then gently applied to the skin. After reviewing the test, your physician will discuss the test results with you.
If a mammogram or ultrasound detects a lump that must be examined further, a breast biopsy can be performed to determine if a lump is cancerous (malignant) or non-cancerous (benign). A breast biopsy removes a sample of breast tissue, which is then sent to a laboratory to determine if breast cancer is present. Several different types of breast biopsy are used to sample breast tissue:
- Fine-needle aspiration biopsy
- A thin needle is inserted into the lump and cells are removed to be examined
- Core needle biopsy
- A large needle is inserted into the lump and cells are removed to be examined
- Stereotactic biopsy
- X-ray is used during a core needle biopsy to find the area of the breast where the biopsy sample will be taken
- Open biopsy
- A cut is made in the skin and a sample of the lump or the entire lump is removed.
If you need to schedule a breast biopsy, call the Lanshe Breast Center at 610-776-4660.
Our specially trained staff of physicians, nurses, and technologists utilize a team approach to preventing, detecting and treating breast cancer. From scheduling your appointment through diagnosis and, if necessary, treatment and follow-up care, our dedicated staff gives your case the prompt, sensitive, individualized, and confidential attention it deserves.