Early detection serves as one of the most important tools in the fight against breast cancer. That’s why we offer an extensive list of screenings and services, with a goal of detecting any signs of concern as early as possible. We understand that waiting for important results can be stressful, which is why in most instances, patients receive their results on the day of their visit.
As a sign of our innovative spirit, the St. Joseph Hospital Breast Care Center in Nashua, New Hampshire, was the first hospital in the region to offer 3D mammography, also known as tomosynthesis breast imaging, to our patients in 2013. 3D mammograms help radiologists detect more cancers and reduced the effect of overlapping tissues. They are beneficial for all women, especially those with dense breast tissue.
We use C-View technology, which combines data from a 3D mammogram with an additional computer generated 3D mammogram image. This offers the same dose of radiation compared to the standard 2D imaging with better breast detection over 2D alone.
Ultrasounds use a hand-held transducer, or camera, to take pictures using sound waves. They’re best used to take a closer look at a specific area of concern. Ultrasounds can help determine if a lump or mass is fluid-filled or solid. It is also used to help see abnormalities during a biopsy.
Magnetic Resonance Imaging, or MRI, is a highly sensitive tool that uses a magnetic field and radio waves to produce highly detailed imaging of the breasts. It is used in addition to mammography for screening high risk women. It is also used prior to surgery to help better evaluate the extent of disease for women who are newly diagnosed with breast cancer. In addition, it can be beneficial in determining if chemotherapy is working. There is no radiation from a breast MRI exam.
Prior to the scan, you may eat or drink whatever you’d like and take any medications as usual. The technologist will review your history and go over a questionnaire with you prior to imaging. You’ll change from the waist up and the technologist will insert an IV. You’ll be positioned on the MRI table face-down on your stomach. Your head will be cradled, like a massage table, and your arms will be positioned above your head in a swimmer’s pose. It typically takes 20 minutes for the scan. Part of the way through, the technologist will administer the contract dye which may feel cold in your upper arm for a few seconds. After the scan, the technologist will have you sit up and the IV will be removed.
Expect to receive your results in the mail within the week. If there are any findings that require additional imaging, a member of the St. Joseph Hospital Breast Cancer Center in Nashua, New Hampshire, will contact you by phone.
A core biopsy enables our physicians to diagnose findings detected on mammography, ultrasound or MRI. This procedure is designed to save women from undergoing unnecessary surgery. It is relatively painless and minimally invasive making it a faster and less traumatic alternative to traditional biopsy.
After our technologist has positioned you and has performed the necessary breast imaging, the physician will locate the area to be biopsied. Your skin will then be cleansed with an antiseptic and the biopsy area will be numbed. A small hollow needle will be inserted into the area of concern. You may feel some pressure as the device is positioned, but most women report feeling little or no pain.
Multiple tissue samples will be taken for microscopic examination to study the makeup of cells. You may hear a hum, beep, click or vacuum sound as the samples are collected. The physician will insert a tiny titanium marker or clip at the biopsy site so that its exact location can easily be identified in the future. This marker poses no health or safety risk and you will not feel or notice it after placement.
A specialized test, called bone mineral density test, measures the density of bone in various parts of the body. The test used to measure bone density is known as the Dual Energy X-Ray Absorptiometry (DXA). This test measures the bone mineral density of the spine and hip. Once you have your test, your results are sent to your physician for review.
We provide risk assessment for our patients. Determining an individual’s lifetime risk of breast cancer is imperative in implementing an appropriate management plan. Using a risk assessment tool called the Tyrer Cuzick risk model, we calculate our patient’s lifetime risk for developing breast cancer. An average woman’s lifetime risk of developing breast cancer is 12%.
Any patient with a calculated lifetime risk of developing breast cancer above 20% on a risk assessment model is eligible for high risk screening breast MRI. Patients with a family history of breast and/or ovarian cancer are offered genetic consultation for Hereditary Breast and Ovarian Cancer Syndrome.
Over the past several years, advances in the field of cancer genetics have given patients the opportunity to determine their predisposition to certain cancers, including breast cancer, to help initiate proper medical management. Although multiple risk factors for breast cancer are known, personal and family history of cancer are key elements impacting cancer risk.
The goal of our Cancer Risk Assessment and Genetic Counseling Program in the early detection and/or prevention of breast and other cancers. Any patient with a personal or family history of cancer meeting NCCN guidelines with a 5% risk or greater of a mutation is eligible for genetic counseling and possible testing.
The Breast Care Center at St. Joseph Hospital in Nashua and Milford, New Hampshire, consists of board-certified radiologists, oncologists, surgeons, and specially trained breast health nurses.