Breast Cancer: Screening & Diagnosis
The American Cancer Society recommends screening for early breast cancer detection for women without any breast symptoms.
Women in their 20s should start Breast Self-Exam (BSE) and report any breast changes to their physician or health professional right away.
Clinical Breast Exam (CBE)
Women in their 20s and 30s should have a Clinical Breast Exam (CBE) as part of a regular health exam by a physician or health professional preferably every 3 years to look for abnormalities in size or shape, or changes in the skin of the breasts or nipples.
Starting at age 40, women should have a CBE by a health professional every year along with a screening mammogram. This gives you the opportunity to discuss with your doctor any changes in your breasts, early detection testing, and factors in your history that might make you more likely to have breast cancer.
If you do not have a physician, contact our free physician referral service.
Widespread use of screening mammograms has increased the number of breast cancers found before they cause any symptoms. At the Silver Cross Center for Women’s Health, we offer full-field 2D digital mammography and 3D mammography or breast tomosynthesis. A physician’s order is not required for a screening mammogram. Schedule an appointment online or call (815) 300-7076.
The American Cancer Society recommends women age 40 and older have a screening mammogram every year and should continue to do so for as long as they are in good health.
Women who are at high-risk for breast cancer based on the following risk factors should also get a mammogram every year.
- Have a known BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene mutation
- Have a first-degree relative (parent, brother, sister, or child) with a BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene mutation, and have not had genetic testing themselves
- Had radiation therapy to the chest when they were between the ages of 10 and 30 years
- Have Li-Fraumeni syndrome, Cowden syndrome, or Bannayan-Riley-Ruvalcaba syndrome, or have first-degree relatives with one of these syndromes
Certain women at high risk for breast cancer, should have a Breast MRI along with a yearly mammogram. MRI is not recommended as a screening tool by itself, because although it is a sensitive test, it can still miss some cancers that mammograms would detect. Breast MRI is also used to better examine suspicious areas found by a mammogram or to look more closely at the breast in someone who has already been diagnosed with breast cancer.
Silver Cross offers Breast MRI at the hospital. A physician’s order is required. To schedule an appointment call (815) 300-7076.
Ultrasound is sometimes used along with mammograms to screen certain women, such as those with dense breast tissue as seen on a mammogram. However, it is not a replacement for mammography. Some studies have shown that having a yearly screening breast ultrasound in addition to a mammogram will show more invasive cancers than mammograms alone in women with dense breasts. But ultrasound also shows many findings that may lead to follow-up or needle biopsy but turn out not to be cancer.
A physician’s order is required for an ultrasound of the breast. To schedule an appointment call (815) 300-7076. Breast Ultrasound is available in the Silver Cross Center for Women’s Health.
Steriotactic Breast Biopsy
Even though imaging tests like the mammogram, breast MRI and ultrasound can find a suspicious area, they cannot tell whether it’s cancer. A biopsy is the only sure way to diagnose breast cancer. At Silver Cross, patients can have a stereotactic breast biopsy in our Center for Women’s Health. A specially trained radiologist uses digital mammography to help locate the lump or abnormality and remove a tissue sample for examination under a microscope to determine diagnosis. It’s less invasive than a surgical biopsy, which is performed by a surgeon in the Hospital’s Procedural Care Unit.
Second Opinions: Multi-Disciplinary Breast Conference
To expedite diagnosis and treatment, Silver Cross patients can get advice from several breast cancer experts on the next steps to take – all in one day. Each Tuesday morning, a multi-disciplinary team of breast specialists meets in the University of Chicago Medicine Comprehensive Cancer Center at Silver Cross Hospital for a Breast Conference. At the Conference, physician specialists representing general surgery, medical oncology, radiation oncology, radiology, plastic/reconstructive surgery and pathology gather in one room to look at patients’ medical information including radiological images and pathology slides and discuss test results and other health information. Led by general surgeon Dr. Mark Danielson and medical oncologist Dr. Grace Suh, the group provides your doctor with a consensus recommendation within 24 hours so that you can make an informed decision and begin treatment immediately.
To have your medical information reviewed at the Breast Conference, ask your primary physician. There is no charge to patients to participate in the Conference as all specialists involved donate their time.