- Question from Cyndal: What about when a breast cancer survivor reaches the magic five years and screening goes back to normal?
- Answers - Cecilia M. Brennecke, M.D. In my practice, breast cancer survivors are always given diagnostic mammograms. That is the standard, as far as I know, in terms of what we use for deciding whether someone is a screening or diagnostic patient, and that is set by the insurance companies. There are codes assigned, and a person with a history of breast cancer can have diagnostic mammograms forever.
Marisa Weiss, M.D.
A careful exam of a person who's had breast cancer is essential. No matter how many years you are beyond your diagnosis, it's important for the technician to mark the scar on the surface of the breast so that the radiologist can focus in on that area with extra attention, as well as carefully evaluate the whole breast. This is one example of why you always deserve to have extra attention. If the scar tissue is prominent and stable even five years out and you go to a facility that does not pay attention to that area, it is possible that the radiologist might become unnecessarily worried about the tissue in the region of surgery.
Any little thing you can do to maximize the quality of your screening can make a big difference. Another advantage to continuing with diagnostic mammography is that you usually get the result of your mammography while you're there. This can vary from one place to another, but I think in general the chances of your being able to talk to the technician and the radiologist is better if you have a diagnostic study.
The Ask-the-Expert Online Conference called Breast Cancer Screening featured Cecilia M. Brennecke, M.D. and Marisa Weiss, M.D. answering your questions about mammograms, ultrasound, MRI, breast self-exams, physical exams by a doctor, and other topics related to breast cancer screening.
Editor's Note: This conference took place in July 2003.
The materials presented in these conferences do not necessarily reflect the views of Breastcancer.org. A qualified healthcare professional should be consulted before using any therapeutic product or regimen discussed. All readers should verify all information and data before employing any therapies described here.
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