NMC San Diego Leader in Breast Health

By Terry L. Lehmann, Academic Coordinator, Breast Health, Naval Medical Center San Diego

From pink ribbons on collars and lab coats, to grocery bags and even NFL team apparel. October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, an international health campaign organized to increase awareness of the disease and research into its cause, prevention, diagnosis, treatment and cure. Supporters hope greater knowledge will lead to earlier detection of breast cancer, which is associated with higher long-term survival rates.

In the Naval Medical Center San Diego (NMCSD) Breast Health Center (BHC), we see this as a prime opportunity to remind women to be breast aware for earlier detection. We celebrate awareness, education and empowerment of our patients. Our team of breast care specialists includes surgeons, nurse practitioners, patient navigators, medical and radiation oncologists and cancer risk experts. We provide a full range of imaging services from routine screening & diagnostic mammographic imaging and work up of breast abnormalities, ultrasound, MRI imaging and multi-modality interventional breast biopsy capacity. We offer breast cancer risk assessment and education, and where appropriate, gene testing. In addition, a newly formed breast cancer support group exists to serve our patients.

We recently completed our rigorous annual FDA inspection, passing not only with flying colors, but special commendation for exceptional performance of mandated activities related to staff qualifications and training, continuing education, equipment performance and quality control measures. This recognition is exceedingly rare in Breast Imaging departments across the Nation and is an accolade of which we are particularly proud.

It is the philosophy of the Comprehensive Breast Health Center that no woman should have to wait and worry that a symptom she is experiencing may be breast cancer. The overwhelming majority of breast-related disorders that a woman may develop will not be breast cancer, but waiting to find out can be frightening. Our top priority is to help you access breast care services as easily as possible and in a timely manner.

Early detection offers women the greatest success when battling breast cancer, and  women should perform a self-exam monthly, at the same time each month. Women should receive their first mammography screening when they turn 40, and then every year or two subsequently while in their forties. All women 40 and over should have a clinical breast exam performed by their provider annually, preferably prior to their mammogram appointment so any concerns identified by the provider can be addressed at the time of the imaging appointment. Women in their fifties should have their mammogram annually. These are general guidelines, and patients should consult with their primary care manager for a personal plan. NMCSD’s breast imaging department is an American College of Radiology accredited all digital state-of –the-art facility with two of our four full-field digital mammography suites having mammography units that exist nowhere else in San Diego. Monday through Thursday from 8 a.m.to 6 p.m., Friday 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. and select Saturdays each month.

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