Breast Health and Mammograms

Understanding your breast cancer risk, routine screening and genetic testing

Breast cancer is the most common cancer among women. In fact: 1 in 8 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime.

While advances in screening, diagnosis and treatment have led to an increase in survival rates, all women need to be armed with accurate, up-to-date information regarding their breast health needs.

At the Henry Ford Cancer Institute, we recognize the emotional and physical impact that breast cancer has on your life. Our breast cancer team includes specially trained radiologists and genetic specialists who provide unparalleled expertise in breast cancer screening and detection, and management of high-risk patients.

Steps you can take to manage your breast cancer risk

Breast cancer doesn’t discriminate. Gender, age, health – it can strike anyone – making breast health awareness important for all women. Here are some steps you can take to manage your breast cancer risk:

  • Routine breast screening

    Regular breast cancer screening for early detection of tumors is vital to successful outcomes. Breast cancer screening includes mammography (a specialized X-Ray evaluation of the breasts) and other advanced breast imaging exams.

    We recommend that average-risk women undergo yearly mammograms beginning at age 40. Regular mammograms reduce breast cancer mortality (death rates) by 20 to 30 percent. Mammography is not perfect. It is important to know that some cancers will be invisible on mammograms, and this is why general awareness of new lumps or changes in the breast is important.

    Since the likelihood of developing breast cancer increases with age, it is more likely that a mammogram will identify a breast problem in an older woman. Breast cancer can, however, occur in young women, making breast health awareness important for women at any age.

    Breast screening and diagnostic tests

    Our breast cancer team includes the expertise of a dedicated breast imaging faculty, featuring a dozen fellowship-trained breast radiologists. We offer the most advanced technologies available to detect, diagnose and manage breast cancer, such as:

    • Mammograms, including digital mammograms and digital breast tomosynthesis (DBT, also called “3-D mammography”), which is recommended for women with dense breasts
    • Breast magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and whole-breast ultrasound are useful in special circumstances, such as screening women at high risk for breast cancer.
    • Molecular breast imaging (MBI) is designed to increase early detection of invasive breast cancer in women with dense breast tissue. This test is used in addition to digital mammography or 3D mammography.
    • Breast ultrasound
    • Computed tomography (CT), including CT scans combined with positron emission tomography (PET/CT)
    • Nuclear medicine
    • Sentinel node biopsy, which is the surgical removal of only the sentinel lymph node under the arm, which provides important information for the doctor on the next steps in treating your breast cancer.
    • Stereotactic biopsy, A minimally invasive procedure that uses x-ray for guidance and localizes the nodule to accurately obtain samples to send for testing.

    Our specially trained radiologists read all mammograms and other imaging results. Our technologists also have completed additional training in mammography. If you need additional testing, our diagnostic nurse navigators will support you through the process.

    We offer 16 mammography locations throughout Southeast Michigan, with convenient day, evening and weekend hours.

  • Genetic testing

    Understanding your personal and family history with breast cancer through genetic testing can play an important role in empowering you to make decisions about your care. An estimated 5 to 10 percent of breast cancer cases are hereditary, meaning they run in the family.

    BRCA genes: Changes (inherited mutations) in two cancer-sensitive genes called breast cancer 1 (BRCA1) and breast cancer 2 (BRCA2) cause these inherited cancers. Each year, about 16,000 new cases of breast cancer and ovarian cancer occur in people with changes in their BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes.

    Our Cancer Genetics Program offers genetic testing if you have a personal and/or family history of:

  • Healthy lifestyle

    There are several breast cancer risk factors that you can control through a healthy lifestyle.

    Obesity: Numerous studies have shown that maintaining a healthy weight can increase your risk for many types of cancer, and breast cancer is no exception. According to the national cancer institute, among postmenopausal women, those who are obese have a 20 to 40 percent increase in risk of developing breast cancer compared with normal-weight women.

    Alcohol Consumption: Consuming one alcoholic drink per day increases your chances of getting breast cancer by at least five percent, according to the American Cancer Institute for Cancer Research. Two to three drinks per day increases raises your risk by 20 percent.

    Exercise: Everyone knows regular exercise leads to a variety of health benefits, and although it’s no cancer cure, it is linked to reduced risk. The American Cancer Society recommends adults engage in at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity or 75 minutes of vigorous intensity activity every week, ideally spread throughout the week.

    Breastfeeding: Although the reasons behind it are still uncertain, multiple studies have recently demonstrated that women who breastfeed have a lower risk of breast cancer.

    Hormone Use After Menopause: In 2002, researchers discovered a connection between Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) and increased breast cancer risk.

Sign up for a breast health event

As part of Breast Cancer Awareness Month in October, we host and participate in several community events including cooking classes, community walks, educational seminars and more.

Find an event near you

Expert breast cancer imaging and care

If the diagnosis is breast cancer, our nationally recognized, fellowship trained breast cancer surgeons, breast reconstructive surgeons, radiation oncologists, medical oncologists, and radiologists will be with you every step of the way -- from screening and diagnosis through treatment and recovery.

Connect with our Cancer Team 24/7

Call us at (888) 777-4167