Breast cancer and osteoporosis are health conditions that can affect anyone — but adult women are often most at risk.
Both of these conditions are easier to manage when they are detected early. And that’s why we opened the Women’s Center at Stormont Vail Health.
The Women’s Center provides women with the resources and opportunities to take their health into their own hands by getting screened for these conditions.
Services We Offer
Digital Breast Cancer Screening
A mammogram is an X-ray image of your breast. We use mammograms as a screening tool for breast cancer in women who are not showing any signs or symptoms.
During a mammogram, you will stand in front of an X-ray machine. The person performing the test will place your breast between two plates, which press against the breast and help the technologist obtain a clear picture.
Mammograms check for irregularities in your breasts, including:
- Masses or lumps
- Asymmetric areas
- Calcium deposits in ducts or tissues
- Dense areas that only appear in one of your breasts, or in one specific area
- Dense areas that did not appear on your last mammogram
Remember — an irregularity does not automatically mean that you have cancer. Mammograms can detect changes in your breast that are benign (non-cancerous).
We offer both 2-D and 3-D mammography (also called digital breast tomosynthesis, digital tomosynthesis, or tomosynthesis) technology to screen for breast cancer.
2-D mammography is the standard mammogram. 3-D mammography is a newer technology, where X-rays take pictures of thin “slices” of your breast from different angles. Then, computer software combines the slices into a 3-D image of the breast.
Both types of mammography have their benefits. A 3-D mammogram has been shown to potentially diagnose breast cancer 15 months before a 2-D mammogram can detect it. However, a 3-D mammogram is not always covered by insurance. Talk with your physician and your insurer to obtain more information about this.
Please review with your primary care provider how often you should receive a screening mammogram, or whether he or she might want to refer you for a screening in the near future.
If we find a lump or abnormality in your breast, we may take a biopsy — a procedure where we remove a tissue sample to examine under a microscope. At the Women’s Center, we offer biopsies guided by ultrasound technology, and ones guided by low-dose X-rays (stereotactic breast biopsy).
These methods are minimally invasive, meaning we do not have to perform major surgery. They also leave minimal to no scarring.
Osteoporosis is a condition where your bones become weak and fragile from loss of bone tissue, making them more prone to fractures. Your body cannot produce enough new bone tissue to make up for the loss. The bones can become so brittle that even mild movements, such as bending over or coughing, can cause a fracture.
While anyone can develop osteoporosis, it is most common in older women. Some of the main risk factors for women include:
- Being small and thin
- Having a family history of osteoporosis or fractures
- Being white or Asian
- Dieting excessively
- Having a diet that is low in calcium and vitamin D
- Not being physically active
- Having certain medical conditions, such as gastrointestinal or blood disorders
- Using certain long-term medications, such as glucocorticoids, anti-clotting drugs, drugs that suppress the
- Immune system or some anticonvulsants
- Excessive alcohol consumption
- Poor bone growth during childhood or adolescence
When we screen for osteoporosis, we check your bone density — your bone’s mass and mineral make-up. Lower bone density puts you at higher risk for fractures.
We measure the amount of bone tissue you have, and compare it with that of a healthy person who is the same age as you are. The measurement also allows us to estimate your risk of fractures.
The screening is easy and painless — it is just a simple scan. It does use radiation, but only in very low, safe doses. Please ask your primary care provider whether you should receive a bone density screening.
Girls’ Night Out
Mammograms are important, but it’s not uncommon for women to skip them. They may fear the results or the discomfort that may occur during the test. Or, they may have such busy schedules that they can’t find a time to schedule a screening.
Recognizing these challenges, we created an event called “Girls’ Night Out.” The event creates a positive, welcoming environment. In addition to getting mammograms, women are able to socialize, learn about women’s health issues, enjoy refreshments and relax with chair massages.
If you have a group of 15 to 20 women who are interested in Girls’ Night Out, call (785) 354-5960 to schedule an event.