Breast cancer is a disease that can impact a woman at many different stages of her life. BC The Mag Health, Beauty & Fitness recently had a conversation with Eleonora Teplinsky, M.D., Head, Breast Medical Oncology, Valley-Mount Sinai Comprehensive Cancer Care, about the risk factors for breast cancer, the importance of timely mammograms and Valley’s unique approach to breast cancer treatment.

Q: How common is breast cancer?

A: Breast cancer is very common – about 1 in 8 women in the United States will develop invasive breast cancer during their lifetime, according to the American Cancer Society (ACS). Fortunately, medical advances are greatly improving survival rates. In fact, the ACS also reports that deaths from breast cancer have declined 39 percent from 1989, attributable to improvements in treatment and early detection from mammograms.

Q: Are there risk factors for breast cancer that women can control?

A: Yes! There are actually several modifiable breast cancer risk factors that women can focus on to decrease their risk of breast cancer and to live a healthier life. These factors include minimizing alcohol consumption, quitting smoking, exercising, following a healthy diet and maintaining a healthy weight and normal Vitamin D levels.

Q: Are there risk factors for breast cancer that women cannot control?

A: Unfortunately, there are many unavoidable risk factors for breast cancer including gender, age, family history, genetics, personal history of breast cancer, prior radiation to the chest, menstrual and pregnancy history, race/ethnicity and certain breast changes.

Q: Can having a mammogram help a woman to manage her risk for breast cancer?

A: Although having a mammogram will not change a woman’s risk for developing breast cancer, it is crucial for women to remain up-to-date on their mammograms. This ensures that, should breast cancer develop, it is caught at the earliest possible stage. The Valley Hospital Breast Center offers a comprehensive roster of the latest screening and diagnostic services to increase the chances of early detection. These include 3-D diagnostic mammograms, breast ultrasound, and breast MRI studies. Stereotactic and ultrasound-guided biopsies are performed right in the Center. For women determined to be at high-risk for breast cancer (and ovarian cancer) Valley offers risk-reducing surgery and high-risk surveillance.

Q: What happens if a mammogram indicates that a patient has developed breast cancer?

A: If breast cancer is diagnosed, it is, of course, imperative to provide excellent, quality, evidenced-based care, but what is probably most important is that we provide the emotional support that all patients and their families need as they navigate this journey. To ensure that our patients’ clinical, social and emotional needs are met, certified patient navigators are available to provide seamless coordination of care, support and guidance. This whole-person approach to care is led by our dedicated team of breast cancer experts. We take a multidisciplinary approach to caring for patients. Treatment choices include the latest advances in medical oncology and the latest in oncoplastic surgical techniques, a state-of-the-art approach to breast conservation surgery; breast seed localization, which allows doctors to precisely pinpoint and remove very small breast cancers that can be seen on a mammogram but not felt in the breast; opportunities to enroll in clinical trials; and breast intraoperative radiation therapy (IORT), which delivers an entire course of radiation therapy to early-stage breast cancer patients in the operating room following a lumpectomy, thereby eliminating the need for what is typically weeks of post-surgery radiation. After treatment, we offer specialized programs and services to our patients including support groups; nutritional guidance; and integrative medicine services such as yoga, Tai Chi, guided meditation, acupuncture and massage therapy.

The Valley Hospital’s Breast Imaging Center offers all breast screening and diagnostic services in one convenient location at the hospital. The Center offers flexible appointments, including some evening and Saturday hours, to make it easier to schedule a yearly mammogram. Its multidisciplinary team of experienced physicians, technologists and support professionals coordinate all aspects of a woman’s breast care. To schedule an appointment for a mammogram, please call (201) 447-8200.

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