Women with dense breasts in the Northwest suburbs will have another breast imaging option thanks to a $250,000 donation from the Gavers Community Cancer Foundation to Northwestern Memorial Foundation. Automated whole-breast ultrasound will be available at Northwestern Medicine Gavers Breast Center to enhance the care patients receive.
ABUS is a painless secondary screening that provides physicians another way to examine dense breast tissue. About 50 percent of women have dense breasts, which can mask abnormalities on a standard digital mammogram. Dense breast tissue is also an independent risk factor for developing breast cancer. ABUS is FDA approved to supplement yearly mammogram screening for patients who have dense breasts.
“Gavers Community Cancer Foundation exists to make a difference in the fight against cancer, and we want to make that difference right here in our community,” said Steve Gavers, who leads the foundation and is a cancer survivor. “We know cancer is most treatable when it is detected in its earliest stages, and our partnership with Northwestern Medicine will help women have the best chance to beat it.”
The $250,000 donation comes from funds raised at the annual Gavers Community Cancer Foundation Barndance.
Dr. Elissa Brebach, medical director of breast imaging at Northwestern Medicine Gavers Breast Center, recommends that all women begin to receive annual screening mammograms at age 40, and says those with higher risk for breast cancer should receive screenings even earlier. Women with dense breasts should continue to receive annual 3-D screening mammograms, and a physician will determine whether ABUS is recommended.
“Patients will benefit from the addition of this 3-D ultrasound technology because it provides another noninvasive way to screen for cancer,” Brebach said. “It brings them peace of mind to have access to even more information about their breast health. Gavers Community Cancer Foundation has a deep understanding of the importance of screenings, and this gift will immediately help patients in our community.”
Northwestern Medicine Gavers Breast Center offers 3-D and digital screening mammograms, follow-up diagnostic care after an abnormal mammogram, and education and treatment for patients who receive breast cancer diagnoses. The center also offers close monitoring for people who have greater risk for breast cancer or who are predisposed to breast cancer.
An Illinois law that went into effect Jan. 1 underscores the importance of informing women about the risks associated with having dense breasts.
“We began sending letters to patients with dense breasts in 2013 to help them understand the importance of screening mammograms,” Brebach said. “Regular screenings are the best way for women to prevent the diagnosis of late-stage breast cancer.”
To learn more about Gavers Community Cancer Foundation, visit gavers.org.
If you would like to make a gift in support of the Northwestern Medicine Gavers Breast Center, call 847-802-7080 or visit centegra.org/give.