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What your doctor may tell you and Why you should consider your own breast health decision anyway

06 June 2011

Safe Breast Imaging listens to Australian women to better understand their fears, frustrations and requirements regarding breast health. Below are some common things women are being told, and how we encourage you to consider your own outcomes.

Only a mammogram is scientifically proven to detect breast cancer
Safe Breast Imaging acknowledges the important role of mammography in screening for and detecting breast cancer.
Safe Breast Imaging also acknowledges the right of women to choose an additional service to proactively monitor their breast health.
A mammogram may be proven, but like any diagnostic tool, it is not 100% accurate. 1 in 6 women diagnosed have their breast cancer missed on their previous mammogram (interval cancer).
 
Early detection is your best protection
A breast cancer lump needs to be about 1cm before it is usually seen on a screening mammogram.
1cm    = size of a fresh pea
            = 1 billion cells
            = average of 8 years to get to that size
Some women have indicated they have breast issues for up to 40 years prior to a diagnosis.  These indicators may not show up early on a mammogram.
 
When you are 50, start your free breast cancer screening program
About 25% of new breast cancer cases are in women younger than 50. That is more than 3000 young women each year.  Women under 50 are not specifically targeted for a screening mammogram, as it is not suitable for premenopausal dense breast tissue. (Note: Women 40-49 can ask for a free screening mammogram).
 
Mammograms are safe as there is minimal exposure to radiation during a mammogram
Many women say they will not have a mammogram due to their perception of radiation risk.
 
It is necessary to compress the breast for an accurate mammogram.  Compression of the breast does not hurt for most women.
Many women say they will not have a mammogram due to the pain they have experienced. 
If you are sensitive to having a mammogram, we are happy to see you.
 
There is no evidence that having a mammogram harms the breast
Some women perceive having a mammogram is harmful.  If you are worried, we have a non-invasive, comfortable breast health imaging service.
 
You need a regular mammogram because you are lumpy
Breast lumps are an indicator of suboptimal health.  It is important to consider other factors to determine breast health status in addition to lumps.
 
You need a regular mammogram because you have family history
Only 1 out of 10 women who develop breast cancer have a family history of breast cancer.
 
Safe Breast Imaging is promoting its services as an alternative to a mammogram.
Safe Breast Imaging does NOT indicate it is an alternative to a mammogram.  For some, it may be an alternative to having no check at all.
In Australia, free mammography screening has been available to 50-70 year olds for 20 years. Participation has not reached 60% over this time. That means nearly half of women in this targeted age bracket do not have a free screening mammogram. 
If women are looking for a breast imaging service and will not have a mammogram they may choose Safe Breast Imaging.
 
Safe Breast Imaging uses a fear campaign to stop women having a mammogram
Women visiting Safe Breast Imaging are intelligent and make an informed decision regarding their breast health. Currently it is still their right to choose their method/s of breast imaging. 
Safe Breast Imaging believes there is an ethical obligation to offer women who will not or cannot have a mammogram another option of breast imaging. 
Over 25% of women visiting Safe Breast Imaging have a mammogram and/or ultrasound as well.
 
What Safe Breast Imaging does is not recognised
Safe Breast Imaging is recognised by many women as providing a useful tool to monitor their breast health.
There is good correlation between the MEM imaging Safe Breast Imaging does to mammogram/ultrasound in highlighting lumps and tissue type.
There is good correlation between the MEM imaging Safe Breast Imaging does and early behavioural changes women experience, which may or may not show up as a lump.
Safe Breast Imaging is currently seeking formal recognition for the valuable work it is doing.
 
What Safe Breast Imaging does is dodgy
We support and encourage you to use the tools available to assess your breast health status, then work with your health practitioner to improve and maintain your breast health. We are interested in your breast health and encourage you to minimise your risk of getting breast cancer. Safe Breast Imaging does not claim to be a diagnostic procedure.
 
Mammography is the only acceptable breast cancer screening tool
We encourage you to have a mammogram to check for breast cancer.
You are welcome at Safe Breast Imaging to proactively check your breast health.
 
Who we have seen lately:
43yo - diagnosed 12 months ago. Pain now in other breast and new change in MEM images from 6 and 12 months ago.
63yo -  experienced recent grief. Significant change to MEM images in one breast since previous imaging 18 months ago.
61yo - significant differences in MEM images in one breast, following car accident 18 months previously.
58yo – suspicious mass on mammogram/ultrasound 6 months ago. MEM imaging 6 months and 1 month ago confirm increased conductivity over area of mass.
34yo – 26 weeks pregnant. Concerned about lump in breast. MEM images show very dense fibrous tissue with poor circulation. (Normally, tissue is glandular/hormonal with pregnancy). Benign condition.  Recommended close monitoring with doctor.
64yo - diagnosed 12 months ago. Lumpectomy, chemotherapy, radiation, hormone treatment, antidepressants. Recent sensations in same breast. MEM Images show high conductivity around scar and abnormal hormonal influence in breast tissue, possibly due to antidepressant and/or hormone medication.
26yo – worried about lump that was suddenly felt. Dense fibrous tissue with indication of a cyst.
All women were referred to their doctor for further investigation.
65% - women imaged in May had indications of dense fibrocystic breast tissue.
 
Women, take action now to improve/maintain your breast health.
Men, pass on to the women you care about.

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