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Getting a mammogram

Frequently women will ask me: Where should I get my mammograms? There are several things to think about.

First, you want to go to a Center that is accredited by the American College of Radiology. This means that they have high quality images and well-trained radiologists. It is preferable to have a digital mammogram but if that technology is not available, then film mammograms are better than not having one done. While it is not clear that digital mammograms improve survival, they do allow the radiologist to examine the images more clearly and to use computer assisted diagnostic tools.

The radiologists’ experience is also important. Dedicated breast centers usually have radiologists who are specialized in breast imaging. These sub-specialized radiologists are very experienced in using mammograms, ultrasound, and breast MRI to diagnose breast disorders and are less likely to miss abnormalities.

Convenience is also a consideration. You want to make it easy to get your mammograms. Some Breast Centers will have mobile mammography programs that will bring mammogram screening to your place of work, local community or senior center, or even your church or synagogue. If possible, it is a good idea to get your mammograms at the same Center or within the same hospital system every year. That way the radiologists have easy access to your prior studies and can compare them to the current ones.

Here are some other things to know about getting mammograms:

The True Family Women’s Cancer Center Opening

We at the Swedish Cancer Institute are excited about the new True Family Women’s Cancer Center, located in downtown Seattle, which opens on June 5. Recognizing that women may have unique needs when faced with a cancer diagnosis, the True Center brings together multiple specialists who treat women with all types of cancer and provide care that is compassionate, caring, and highly coordinated. It is funded entirely by philanthropy.

The True Center is located on floors 5 and 6 of the Arnold Pavilion at 1221 Madison. Floor 5 will house medical oncology teams, our psychiatrist, social workers, genetic counselors, naturopathic physicians, nutritionists, The Rivkin Ovarian Cancer Center Clinic offices, a patient education satellite, our American Cancer Society Patient Navigator, and a financial counselor. The 6th floor will be the home to our multidisciplinary clinic, which will house our breast surgery teams, cancer rehabilitation physician, physical therapists, and social worker. Also on Floor 6 will be gynecological oncology consultations and specialized breast imaging. Other specialists may also be available to see patients in the multidisciplinary clinic.

The co-location of these services allows for improved patient convenience and enhanced communication among the members of care provision teams. Instead of ...

Swedish Set to Open Comprehensive True Family Women’s Cancer Center

SEATTLE – May 29, 2012 – Swedish Cancer Institute (SCI) is set to open its new True Family Women’s Cancer Center to patients on Tuesday, June 5. Carefully designed with the female cancer patient in mind, the new 23,600-square-foot women’s cancer center gives Swedish Cancer Institute the ability to consolidate most of its services for treating women’s cancers into one facility. The new center acts as a treatment hub where women are guided through personalized and coordinated multidisciplinary treatment of their cancer, including disease-specific education and holistic support activities.

What you need to know about breast screening

In 2009, the United States Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) created significant controversy and confusion for both providers and patients when they revised their breast screening guidelines. (The USPSTF is promoted as an unbiased group that reviews relevant studies and makes guideline recommendations. Specialists may be asked to review the guidelines but no breast specialists (surgeons or radiologists) were on the actual review panel.)

The guideline development process aims to weigh the potential benefit of services against the potential harm, and make recommendations accordingly. For breast screening, the harms considered were “psychological harms,” imaging tests and biopsies in women who were ultimately found not to have cancer, inconvenience, and the possibility of treating a cancer that might not have been life threatening. Radiation exposure was considered to be a minor concern. Regarding benefits – the only benefit considered was reduction in death rates from breast cancer.

These USPSTF guidelines recommend...

Prostate Cancer Screening

This week a large European consortium updated the data on a huge study on prostate cancer screening. The study included over 160,000 men in eight European countries followed for an average of 11 years. The men were randomly assigned to prostate cancer screening with the PSA blood test or no screening. The primary endpoint of the study was death from prostate cancer. The current report in the New England Journal of Medicine gave an additional two years of follow-up data over the prior reports.

As expected with longer follow-up, the benefits from screening have become more clear. The study now shows a 29% decrease in the number of men dying from prostate cancer in the screened group. This confirms the expected benefit for early detection.

This publication comes at a time of great controversy regarding prostate cancer screening here in the United States...

Mercer Island Half Marathon and Colon Cancer Prevention

On Sunday, March 25, 2012, the Mercer Island Rotary Club will be hosting the 40th Annual Mercer Island Half Marathon. Children and adults of all ages participate and we anticipate more of the same this year. In addition to the half marathon race around the Island, there will also be a 10K Run, a 5K Run and Walk and a Kids’ Dash. So anyone can participate!

Swedish and the Swedish Cancer Institute are sponsors of this signature event. We are so excited to be part of this event again. One of the main purposes of the day is to raise awareness of colon cancer prevention.

In addition to the various runs and walks, you can still visit, have fun and maybe learn something new. You can also visit the “COLOSSAL COLON”! For the first time you get to walk through the colon and see what the inside looks like! Just don’t get lost in there. Don’t worry, it doesn’t smell!

This year will be particularly special as the 40th anniversary run. In honor of the anniversary, the Mercer Island Rotary Club has collected the “40 Faces of Colon Cancer”. This is a terrific idea. It’s a way to make colon cancer personal and real. Patients of all ages, races and backgrounds have agreed to share their personal stories and cancer experiences. Each story is unique as are the individuals with cancer. What they have in common is a passion to raise awareness of colon cancer and the need to get screened.

Colon cancer is unique among cancers in that nearly all can be prevented with appropriate screening.

Upcoming livestream on colonoscopy, colon cancer, and colon health

If you're 50 (or nearing it), you should be thinking about getting your colonoscopy. Not a pleasant thought, but it's important for everyone to get screened at 50. If you don't know much about colonoscopies, why they are important, or have questions that you're too embarassed to ask, tune in to the livestream next Wednesday between 9 a.m. and noon (Pacific Time) at www.swedish.org/colonlive.

Drs. Raman Menon and Nicholas Procaccini are hosting a livestream to discuss the benefits of colonoscopy, and why it is important that everyone at age 50 get screened. Patients at risk and those with family members who have had colon cancer may need earlier screening. March is colon cancer awareness month – and Swedish is committed to identifying new ways of communicating to better inform and to provide a new level of education to the community.

You'll be able to watch them chat live, narrate recorded colonoscopy procedures, and answer your questions live (and you can submit them anonymously - so no need to feel embarassed).

What is colon cancer?

Colon, or colorectal, cancer is cancer that starts in the large intestine (colon) or the rectum (end of the colon). Other types of cancer that can affect the colon include lymphoma, carcinoid tumors, melanoma, and sarcomas. These are often rare but can often be detected by a colonoscopy.

What is a colonoscopy?

A colonoscopy is the endoscopic examination of the large bowel and the distal part of the small bowel with a CCD camera or a fiber optic camera on a flexible tube passed through the anus. By having a colonoscopy, doctors are able to see potential ulcerations or polyps within the colon. During the procedure, if these are found, doctors have the opportunity to biopsy or remove suspected lesions.

Why a livestream of a colonoscopy?

The American Cancer Society says that colorectal cancer is one of the leading causes of cancer-related deaths in the U.S. However, if caught early it often leads to a complete cure. Education and awareness is our goal. Because of awareness, the death rate for colon cancer has dropped in the last 15 years ...

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