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Breast Health FAQs

The following are some common questions regarding breast health. If you do not find the answer to your question here, please explore the web links listed at the end of this page or contact our Breast Health Educator at vwitkin@lrgh.org, or (603) 527-2940.

Important Web Links:

What do I do if I find a lump?

Are breast self-exams necessary?

How can the Breast Health Program help me?

Do I really need to get a mammogram every year?

What if I can't afford the cost of a mammogram?

What are the Mammography Bridge & BCCP Programs?

What is a screening mammogram?

What is a diagnostic mammogram?

What is a breast ultrasound?

What is a fine needle aspiration?

What is a Stereotactic Biopsy?

What is a core biopsy?

What is “benign?”

What is “malignant?”

What is a lumpectomy?

What is a mastectomy?

Should I get a second opinion on my treatment plan?

Are all of the services I need available in my local community?

What if I am uninsured, or can't afford the cost of the care I need?

What do I do if I find a lump?

Most lumps are not cancer, and can be common, especially in menstruating women. Most lumps fluctuate and go away at the end of a menstrual cycle. Eight out of ten breast lumps are not cancerous; but a change in your breast should not be ignored. The best advice is to see a doctor.

Are breast self-exams necessary?

There are some studies that state that breast self-exams may not help outcome in cancer cases. However, it is best for a woman to be aware of her own body and changes in her breasts. Many women locate breast lumps through self-exam before they are ever detected by a physician or routine mammogram, and early treatment is critical in successfully treating breast cancer. If you need more information about how to do a self-exam, please email our Breast Health Educator at vwitkin@lrgh.org or call her at (603) 527-2940.

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How can the Breast Health Program help me?

The Breast Health Program offers education and support for women dealing with breast health issues. If you are healthy and have questions regarding screening guidelines, self-exams, or other issues, our Breast Health Program can help you. And if you are facing breast health challenges and need information and assistance navigating your options, or simply need a friend to talk to, our Breast Health Program can help you. This program is for all women with questions about breast health.

Do I really need to get a mammogram every year?

The American Cancer Society recommends that women over the age of 40 have an annual mammogram. We strongly encourage you to follow these guidelines-mammography is a key to early detection of breast cancer.

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What if I can't afford the cost of a mammogram?

LRGHealthcare does not refuse any patient treatment for inability to pay. If you are uninsured, or payment for medical services poses a hardship to you, please call our HealthLink program at (603) 527-7171 or visit Screening Programs & Assistance. We are here to help.

LRGHealthcare proudly participates in the Let No Woman Be Overlooked Program, and also offers the Mammography Bridge Program. Please call us at (603) 527-7118 for more information. Cost should not be a barrier to you getting the healthcare you need.

What are the Mammography Bridge & BCCP Programs?

The Mammography Bridge program is an extension of the HealthLink program, this program helps bridge the gap for women who may not qualify for HealthLink or the BCCP program, but still have financial barriers to receiving a regular screening mammogram. Some women qualifying for this new program may have health insurance, but may have a very high deductible or no mammography screening coverage in their plan. Or, they may not have insurance, but not meet the financial guidelines for the HealthLink program.

The Mammography Bridge program requires a brief financial screening process. If a woman qualifies, she will be given a voucher for a screening digital mammogram at one of our four locations: Lakes Region General Hospital; Franklin Regional Hospital; Laconia Clinic; or Lakes Region OB/GYN.

The Let No Woman Be Overlooked Breast and Cervical Cancer Program provides free breast and cervical cancer screenings to New Hampshire women who meet certain requirements.

For more information about either program, please contact our Breast Health Educator at vwitkin@lrgh.org or call her at (603) 527-2940 or visit Screening Programs & Assistance.

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What is a screening mammogram?

A screening mammogram is an x-ray of the breast used to detect breast changes in women who have not signs or symptoms of breast cancer. It usually involves two xrays of each breast. With a mammogram, it is possible to detect microcalcifications (tiny deposits of calcium in the breast, which sometimes are a clue to the presence of breast cancer) or a tumor that cannot be felt. While this procedure does require compression of the breasts, which may lead to some discomfort, it should not be painful.

What is a diagnostic mammogram?

A diagnostic mammogram is an xray of the breast that is used to diagnose unusual breast changes, such as a lump, pain, thickening, nipple discharge, or a change in breast size or shape. It is used to evaluate changes detected on a screening mammogram. A diagnostic study may require more views of the breast from several angles, or magnification of a specific area in the breast. While this procedure does require compression of the breasts, which may lead to some discomfort, it should not be painful.

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What is a breast ultrasound?

A breast ultrasound is a procedure that provides providers with additional information about a breast lump-it is not used in place of a mammogram, but may help in identifying the cause of a lump. It is very effective at identifying cysts, or fluid-filled breast lumps. It is a painless procedure, and is done by passing a special transducer over the surface of your skin. The transducer emits and detects echoes of sounds waves, creating a picture of the inside of your breast on a screen.

What is a fine needle aspiration?

Fine needle aspiration is a procedure in which a small needle is inserted into a breast lump to withdraw a sample of fluid or a small cluster of cells. It is minimally-invasive, and is often used when a lump is suspected to be a cyst. It can be used either as a biopsy procedure, or simply to drain the fluid from a cyst. A local anesthetic is used.

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What is a Stereotactic Biopsy?

A stereotactic biopsy procedure uses a special mammography machine to locate a lesion under x-rays. It then determines the correct angle and depth needed to place the needle tip into the abnormal area to remove tissue samples. A physician performs the procedure with the assistance of a technologist, while the person is positioned in a lying-down (prone) position. It is done with local anesthesia, followed by placement of a small bandage.

What is a core biopsy?

A core biopsy is a procedure in which the breast is first numbed with a local anesthetic, and then a hollow needle is inserted into the lump to draw out a small tissue sample. It is similar to a fine needle aspiration, except a larger needle is used, and the sample withdrawn is also larger.

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What is “benign?”

Benign tumors are not cancer. They can usually be removed, and in most cases, they do not come back. Cells from benign tumors do not spread to other parts of the body. Most important, benign breast tumors are not a threat to life.

What is “malignant?”

Malignant tumors are cancer. Cells in these tumors are abnormal. They divide without control or order, and they can invade and damage nearby tissues and organs. Also, cancer cells can break away from a malignant tumor and enter the bloodstream or the lymphatic system. That is how cancer spreads from the original (primary) cancer site to form new tumors in other organs. The spread of cancer is called metastasis.

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What is a lumpectomy?

Lumpectomy is a surgical procedure in which a breast lump and an area of normal tissue surrounding the lump are removed. It is often used for women who have small, localized breast cancers. Lumpectomy is also called breast-sparing surgery. After breast-sparing surgery, most women receive radiation therapy to destroy cancerous cells that may remain in the area.

What is a mastectomy?

Mastectomy is a procedure in which all or a large portion of a woman's breast is surgically removed. The procedure is done under general anesthesia. Mastectomy may or may not be followed by breast reconstruction.

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If I have breast cancer, what will my treatment be?

If you are diagnosed with breast cancer, your healthcare team will discuss treatment options with you. Treatments may include surgery, chemotherapy, hormonal therapy, immunotherapy, radiation therapy, or some combination of those. You may also choose to explore holistic health options. Your providers will work with you to create the best plan to meet your individual needs.

Should I get a second opinion on my treatment plan?

LRGHealthcare is home to top-quality, board-certified physicians and providers, and you can be confident in their expertise. That being said, we want you to be comfortable with your diagnosis and treatment plan, so we don't discourage you from getting a second opinion.

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Are all of the services I need available in my local community?

LRGHealthcare's offers chemotherapy, hormonal therapy, immunotherapy, and surgical treatments at our Laconia campus. We also offer Holistic Health and lymphedema treatment at our Belmont facility, and surgical treatments at our Franklin campus. We do not offer radiation therapy at our hospital campuses.

What if I am uninsured, or can't afford the cost of the care I need?

LRGHealthcare does not refuse any patient treatment for inability to pay. If you are uninsured, or payment for medical services poses a hardship to you, please call our HealthLink program at (603) 527-7171 or visit Screening Programs & Assistance HealthLink is an information and referral system and it provides healthcare financial counseling and access to medical, dental, wellness, and prescription services for those in financial need. Cost should not be a barrier to you getting the healthcare you need. We are here to help.

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Important Web Links:

The American Cancer Society: www.cancer.org
National Cancer Institute: www.cancer.gov
National Alliance of Breast Cancer Organizations: www.nabco.org
The Susan G. Komen Cancer Foundation: www.komen.org
Oncolink: Breast Cancer Network: www.oncolink.org