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Mercy Regional Breast Center

Digital mammograms

Annual mammograms save lives. When breast cancer is found early, the five-year survival rate is an amazing 96%!

Mercy’s digital mammography offers many advantages over traditional film mammography:

• More accurate in detecting breast cancer in three groups of women: those under 50, pre- and peri-menopausal women, and those with dense breasts.
• Images can be viewed instantly on the computer monitor; technicians can immediately see if they were taken correctly, freeing you from waiting till films are developed, or from being called back for more x-rays after you’ve gone home.
• Our radiologists can send your digital images electronically to other mammography specialists; these long-distance consultations are faster and easier for quicker diagnosis.
We offer both screening and diagnostic mammograms. We are MQSA (Mammography Quality Standards Act) certified. These regulations insure high-quality mammography for early breast cancer detection.

Breast MRI

A magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan creates detailed pictures of the breast and surrounding tissues. It also provides clear pictures of parts of the breast that are difficult to see clearly on ultrasound or mammogram.

MRI may be done along with mammography or ultrasound. However, it is not a replacement for mammography.

Breast MRI may be performed to:

• Check for more cancer in the same breast or the other breast after breast cancer has been diagnosed
• Distinguish between scar tissue and tumors in the breast
• Evaluate a breast lump (usually after biopsy)
• Evaluate an abnormal result on a mammogram or breast ultrasound
• Evaluate for possible rupture of breast implants
• Find any cancer that remains after surgery or chemotherapy
• Screen for cancer in women at very high risk for breast cancer (such as those with a strong family history)
• Screen for cancer in women with very dense breast tissue

Breast ultrasound

This type of painless imaging technique may be used for several reasons.

If a mammogram or physical exam shows an abnormal growth, ultrasound can help determine if it is a solid mass or a cyst (a fluid-filled sac). Ultrasound can also determine if the mass is a fibroadenoma or lipoma. A fibroadenoma is a noncancerous solid growth. Lipomas are noncancerous fatty lumps that can occur anywhere in the body, including the breasts.

Imaging-guided breast biopsy

If you’ve had an imaging test and it shows a suspicious growth in your breast, a biopsy is your next step. These minimally invasive procedures use computer imaging to locate the growth and take small tissue samples to study.

We offer several types of image-guided biopsy procedures. Your doctors will choose the biopsy method that is best suited to your type of lump or abnormality.

All our image-guided biopsy methods have many advantages over traditional surgical biopsy:

• No general anesthesia is required
• They are performed in an outpatient setting
• The incision is much smaller, offering a better cosmetic result
• It is faster and less expensive
• Recovery time is brief and patients can soon resume their usual activities.

It’s important to know that with any of these methods, about 80% of abnormal growths turn out to be benign (noncancerous).

Stereotactic breast biopsy
A stereotactic breast biopsy is performed when a mammogram shows a breast abnormality. In this type of biopsy, a special mammography machine uses ionizing radiation to help guide the radiologist’s instruments to the site of the abnormal growth. Stereotactic breast biopsy is also an excellent way to evaluate calcium deposits or tiny masses that are not visible on ultrasound.

Ultrasound-guided biopsy
An ultrasound-guided breast biopsy can be performed when a breast ultrasound shows an abnormality. Ultrasound-guided breast biopsy can evaluate lumps under the arm or near the chest wall, which are hard to reach with stereotactic biopsy. There are times when your doctor may decide that ultrasound guidance for biopsy is appropriate even for a mass that can be felt.

MRI-guided biopsy
This type of biopsy is most helpful when MR (magnetic resonance) imaging shows a breast abnormality. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) helps guide the radiologist’s instruments to the site of the abnormal growth.

Bone density testing

A bone mineral density (BMD) test measures how much calcium and other types of minerals are present in a section of your bone. Your health care provider uses this test, along with other risk factors, to predict your risk of bone fractures in the future. Bone fracture risk is highest in people with osteoporosis. Here, we use the most common method, a DEXA scan. It uses low-dose x-rays to measure the density of your bones in your lower spine and hip. This so-called “central” DEXA scan is the gold standard in bone density testing and is the best test to predict your risk of fractures.

Your health care provider can tell you if should do monthly breast self-exams, and also show you how to do them.
In its earliest stages, breast cancer shows no symptoms, so monthly self-exams help identify changes to be concerned about.

Watch for:

• A lump or thickening in or near the breast, your underarm area, or neck
• A change in the size or shape of your breast
• Nipple discharge or tenderness
• Nipple pulled back (inverted) into the breast
• Ridges or pitting of the breast skin (like the skin of an orange)
• Any change in the way the skin of your breast, areola or nipple looks or feels; is it warm, swollen, red or scaly?

These changes can also signal problems less serious than cancer. See your health care provider for further evaluation.
To learn about breast cancer risk factors, signs, symptoms and a self-exam guide, visit or

If you are diagnosed with breast cancer, we hope you’ll find comfort in knowing that you have the full resources of Mercy Health System at your service. Our caring, compassionate staff will become your cancer-fighting team, with you at the center.

Mercy offers you the following:

Mercy Regional Cancer Center
• Cancer Resource Center
• Journey to Health exercise program
• The Women’s Boutique (breast forms, bras, swimwear and more)
• Mercy Complementary Medicine Center
Mercy Options Behavioral Health Services
• Cancer support groups
• Lymphadema treatment program
• Financial counseling
Mercy Regional Plastic Surgery, Skin and Laser Center
• Wigs for Patients program
• Breast cancer genetic testing and counseling
• Cancer clinical trials

Related News:

  • Mercy Regional Breast Center receives grant
  • For more information about these services, call Mercy HealthLine at (608) 756-6100 or (888) 39-MERCY.

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