One out of every nine women will develop breast cancer according to estimates from the American Cancer Society. One of the most important steps you can take to decrease your risk of breast cancer is to be sure you are getting regular mammograms. A baseline mammogram is recommended between 35-40 years of age. Between 40 and 50 years of age, either a mammogram every year or every other year is acceptable. After age 50, annual mammograms are recommended.

To stay ahead of the mammogram technology curve, we have formed an alliance with Brown Radiology for same-day mammograms. In the typical medical office with older equipment, mammograms are usually read by out -of-state radiologists and results are provided a couple of weeks later. If an abnormal finding is found, the patient is then referred to a radiology facility for a Diagnostic Mammogram which creates an additional wait time before a surgeon can be consulted. It is very hard for women and their families to deal with this anxiety, worry, and sleepless nights.

Dr. Thaxton met with the administrator and several key decision makers from Brown Radiology at its new facility in Evans to resolve these issues and to arrange for his patients to have same day mammograms, bone density, and almost any other radiological test needed, including MRI and CT scans. Brown Radiology will work with Dr. Thaxton's patients to offer them mammograms or bone density appointments either before or after their visit with him on the same day. The Brown Radiology office is only minutes away from our facility in Evans. Mammograms and bone densities are read by a radiologist on-site at the time of service. If necessary, the radiologist can review the examination with the patient and provide consultation. Dr. Thaxton will have the results in 24-48 hours, providing fast service and increased peace of mind for his patients.

Mammograms are interpreted by radiologists who look for calcifications and masses. Microcalcifications are small specks of calcium that may suggest the presence of a cancer in a particular area of the breast. Depending on the appearance of the calcifications, the radiologist may recommend further evaluation by repeat mammograms, close follow-up mammograms or biopsy of the area.

Masses on mammogram may be benign, like a cyst or fibroadenoma. Ultrasound or needle aspiration may be recommended in order to obtain a clear diagnosis. About 10-20 percent of cancers will not be seen on mammogram because their appearance is too similar to the surrounding breast tissue. That is why regular annual breast exams by a physician and routine monthly self breast exams are important too.

Digital mammography with computer aided detection is one of the newest technologies in early detection of breast cancer. It has been shown to detect up to 28 percent more cancers than the routine mammogram in women 50 years old and younger, women in the perimenopausal state, and women with particularly dense breast tissue. The images are collected in the same way as the previous method, but the images are then stored on computer which allows for better picture quality and evaluation by the radiologist.

Remember that early detection is key - when breast cancer is found early, the five-year survival rate is 97 percent.