It’s time to stop putting off a mammogram
The seemingly never-ending COVID-19 shutdowns and restrictions have put countless plans on hold. In many cases, those plans have included regular cancer screenings — particularly screening for breast cancer, which has fallen by nearly 50%. As we know, the key to beating metastatic breast cancer is early detection. Delayed diagnoses give cancer more time to spread before it’s caught, reducing chances of survival. In fact, the National Cancer Institute (NCI) estimates more than 10,000 additional deaths from breast and colorectal cancer over the next 10 years because of these delayed screenings.
While the news often focuses on daily new COVID-19 cases, the fact is that in Pennsylvania, both hospitalizations and deaths from the pandemic have fallen dramatically. In addition, health facilities in particular (St. Clair chief among them) have instituted social distancing, mask and cleaning protocols that are shown to greatly reduce the risk of transmission. Now during Breast Cancer Awareness Month, it’s time to again make breast health a priority.
Let’s start with understanding the risk factors of breast cancer. According to our partners at the Mayo Clinic, these include:
- Increasing age
- A family history of breast cancer
- Inherited BRCA genes
- Radiation treatments to your chest as a child or young adult
- Onset of your period at a younger age
- Onset of menopause at an older age
- Having your first child after 30
- Having never been pregnant
- Postmenopausal hormone therapy
- Alcohol consumption.
Naturally, some of these can’t be avoided, but there are steps you can take to help reduce your risk:
- Practice self-examinations to become familiar with your breasts and recognize any changes
- Exercise at least 30 minutes most days of the week
- Limit or eliminate alcohol use
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Eat a healthy diet, such as the Mediterranean diet (focusing on plant-based foods) which may result in reduced risk of breast cancer
- Most importantly…
Talk to your doctor today about breast cancer screening.
While self-examinations are a good idea, women who have routine mammograms reduce their chances of dying from breast cancer by up to 25%. Not only does early detection improve your chances of survival, it can reduce the need for a mastectomy or chemotherapy.
While choosing to do your screening is the first step, choosing where to have it done is just as important. At the St. Clair Hospital Breast Care Center, we’ve put the most advanced diagnostic imaging technology in the skilled hands of an experienced, compassionate team of radiologists.
“We understand that breast cancer is scary and our approach is to make it less so,” says board-certified radiologist Andrea M. Sanfilippo, M.D. “Part of that is the amazing technology that enables us to make sure we’re not missing anything.”
That technology includes the latest in digital 3D mammography, as well as stereotactic biopsy — both of which can catch cancer years earlier than self-examination. And should this screening find an abnormality, our advanced breast MRI technology further aids with diagnosis and can help determine the best course of treatment.
But more than world-class diagnostic tools and skills, it’s the respect, understanding and sensitivity of our people that sets the tone for a woman’s journey.
“We interact with our patients throughout the day and we’ll see any patient at any time,” says the St. Clair Breast Care Center’s Bibianna A. Klepchik, M.D. “We answer questions, relieve fears, and explain procedures. When we find an abnormality, we’re the first to tell our patient, ‘You need to have a biopsy.’ It’s very emotional — there is shock, fear and disbelief — but we give her tremendous support.”
To learn more about our Breast Care Center, click here for the story in our October edition of HouseCall magazine. And if you’d like to schedule an imaging appointment, call 412.942.8150.
Because now’s the time.
Bibianna A. Klepchick, M.D.
Director of Breast Imaging,
St. Clair Hospital
Dr. Klepchick specializes in diagnostic radiology. She earned her medical degree at MCP Hahnemann School of Medicine, Philadelphia, and completed a residency and fellowship at Allegheny General Hospital, Pittsburgh. Dr. Klepchick is board-certified in AB Radiology – Diagnostic Radiology. She practices with South Hills Radiology Associates.
To contact Dr. Klepchick, please call 412.942.2628.
Andrea M. Sanfilippo, M.D.
St. Clair Hospital
Dr. Sanfilippo specializes in diagnostic radiology. She earned her medical degree at University of Louisville Medical School, Louisville, Ky., and completed a residency at UPMC. Dr. Sanfilippo is board-certified in AB Radiology – Diagnostic Radiology. She practices with South Hills Radiology Associates.
To contact Dr. Sanfilippo, please call 412.942.3101.