Breast care in Denver
HealthONE's family of hospitals in the Greater Denver area are here for all of your breast health needs. From your first screening mammogram to treating breast abnormalities, we offer comprehensive breast care.
For more information about HealthONE's breast health services, please call (303) 575-0055.
All Colorado Total Breast Health locations are NAPBC accredited—a rare accreditation signifying the highest quality of care.
Our breast health programs
Our breast health team offers:
- Compassionate nurse navigators
- Complementary services to aid in treatment
- Coordinated care
- Cutting-edge clinical trials
- Departments with nationally accredited breast imaging locations from the National Accreditation Program for Breast Centers (NAPBC) (given to a select number of breast centers nationwide that have demonstrated the highest commitment to quality)
- Nationally renowned physicians
- Options to get your care when and where you need it
- State-of-the-art diagnostics and treatments
- Multidisciplinary care team, including breast radiologists, breast surgeons, medical oncologists, radiation oncologists and reconstructive surgeons
Breast cancer screening
The breast cancer specialists of Sarah Cannon Cancer Institute at HealthONE recommend an annual screening mammogram for women 40-74 years old. However, your decision to undergo screening should be made in consultation with your physician. If you are considered "high risk" for breast cancer, because you have a family history of breast cancer or personal risk factors, please consult your physician about when to begin screening.
Breast imaging and diagnostics
We offer an array of cutting-edge diagnostics for your breast health needs, including:
- Mammography and tomosynthesis (3D mammography)
- Breast magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
- Breast ultrasound
- Breast biopsy
A mammogram is a low-dose, digital X-ray of your breasts. Having clear and accurate images of the inside of the breast is important to detect and diagnose breast disease. We offer several types of mammography, including:
- Screening mammograms
- Diagnostic mammograms
- 3D mammography
During a screening mammogram, your technician will take two X-rays of each breast. This technology makes it possible to see changes (such as lumps) that are too subtle to find during a physical exam.
A diagnostic mammogram is ordered when a change is discovered in one or both breasts. The change may include pain, nipple thickening, nipple discharge or a difference in breast shape or size. A diagnostic mammogram may also be performed if an unusual spot was found on a screening mammogram.
Tomosynthesis (3D mammography)
Our 3D mammography machine moves around the breast taking X-rays from multiple angles to allow us to see fine details that could be hidden. These images are then computer-generated into a 3D reconstruction of the breast.
This screening tool has been shown to give a clearer, more accurate look at the breast than traditional mammography. For that reason, it is particularly useful for women with dense breasts.
Benefits of tomosynthesis include increased breast cancer detection rates, decreased number of unnecessary call backs and fewer false positive results.
How to prepare for a mammogram
Women should prepare for a 3D mammogram the same way they would for a traditional mammogram. Here are some things to think about when preparing for a mammogram:
- Consider scheduling during a time when you expect your breast to be the least tender (perhaps avoiding the week before your menstrual cycle).
- Do not wear any deodorant, powder or lotion under your arms or on your breasts (it can impact the results).
- Wear a two-piece outfit so you only have to remove the top.
Can you have a mammogram if you're pregnant or breastfeeding?
If you are pregnant, you should not undergo a mammogram because of possible danger to the fetus. If your gynecologist or obstetrician feels it is important to have a breast screening test during your pregnancy, a breast ultrasound will be ordered.
If you are breastfeeding, your tissues may appear more dense than usual, making it harder for the radiologist to interpret the results.
Can you have a mammogram if you have a breast implant?
While it is safe to have a mammogram when you have a breast implant, be sure to tell the technologist before the procedure. The machine may require special adjustment for the best possible images.
MRI breast images allow physicians to see conditions, including some small breast lesions, which may not be visible with other breast imaging methods. An MRI of the breast can be particularly helpful for women with breast implants or women with dense breast tissue, in which breast cancer can be harder to detect with traditional mammograms.
A breast MRI does not use X-rays. It uses magnetic waves to create cross-sectional, 3D breast images.
Breast ultrasounds are used to diagnose abnormalities found during routine physical breast exams. Breast ultrasounds also help further characterize certain mammography findings.
For example, an ultrasound for a breast abnormality can help determine whether a breast lump is fluid-filled (which could be a benign breast cyst) or solid (which could be either a cancerous or benign tumor).
Breast ultrasound does not use radiation. It produces images through high-frequency sound waves.
Breast biopsies are necessary to tell if a breast lump is noncancerous (benign) or malignant (cancerous) after the lump is found by a physical exam or mammogram.
We offer two types of breast biopsies:
- Stereotactic breast (X-ray-guided) biopsy
- Ultrasound-guided breast biopsy
Stereotactic breast biopsy
Stereotactic breast biopsies are performed when mammography reveals a mass or other abnormal area of tissue.
In a stereotactic breast biopsy, a specialized digital mammography machine pinpoints the suspicious area by using two intersecting coordinates to locate it. Then, a needle is used to obtain a tissue sample from that location.
Ultrasound-guided breast biopsy
An ultrasound-guided biopsy is used when the breast abnormality can be detected with an ultrasound.
In this biopsy, the ultrasound images will pinpoint where the breast abnormality is so cells can be collected and analyzed. The exam involves an ultrasound probe moving across your breast so the radiologist can carefully guide a needle to the precise location of the mass.
Benign breast conditions
Women experience many changes in their breasts throughout their lives. Some changes may be frightening because they mimic the signs and symptoms of breast cancer. However, women who undergo further testing with a biopsy are often given a noncancerous (benign) diagnosis.
If your benign condition is painful or causes discomfort, your physician may recommend treating it through surgery or medications. Other conditions may need no treatment at all. There are also some types of benign breast conditions that put you at a higher risk for breast cancer. In this case, your doctor will recommend ongoing monitoring.
The most common types of benign breast disease are:
- Breast cysts: Cysts are fluid-filled lumps that may or may not go away on their own. If needed, treatment includes aspiration (removing the fluid).
- Fibrocystic breast disease: This diseases causes lumpiness in the breasts that may be uncomfortable. No treatment is necessary, but limiting caffeine, eating a low-fat diet and taking fatty acid supplements may reduce symptoms.
- Fibroadenoma: This is the most common type of breast lump, and you may or may not be able to feel it. It may shrink or disappear with no treatment or can be removed surgically if needed.
- Intraductal papilloma: This is a lump in the milk ducts that resembles a wart and may cause discomfort. Typically, a intraductal papilloma is removed with a biopsy procedure.
- Traumatic fat necrosis in breast: These firm breast lumps are made up of dead or damaged breast tissue. They appear after a breast surgery or other trauma to the breast. Treatment may include pain-relieving medication and a warm compress or, less commonly, surgical removal.