October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and medical experts are urging women across the country to get mammograms. But one local doctor is offering a sobering thought: the mammogram is only as accurate as the radiologist reading it.
Dr. Donna Marie Manasseh, chief of breast surgery at the Maimonides Breast Cancer Center, said it’s important that a mammogram be analyzed by an experienced radiologist. Otherwise, cancer might not be detected, she said. “Anybody can take a picture. But it takes an experienced person to read it,” Manasseh said. “The person has to know what they’re looking for,” she added.
Speaking at a Community Board 10 meeting on Oct. 15, Manasseh said the cancer center, located at 745 64th St., has a team of five radiologists on hand to read mammograms and other tests.
Breast cancer screenings are potential life savers, according to Manasseh, who said the tests are often able to detect cancer at its earliest stages. “The smaller you find a cancer, the better it is,” she said.
The Maimonides Breast Cancer Center uses mammography machines, as well as ultra-sound devices and MRIs, she said. “If the mammo doesn’t catch it (cancer), the ultra-sound will,” she said.
An ultra-sound machine “exposes you to less radiation” than a mammogram, Manasseh said.
Ultra-sound tests are done differently than mammograms. Unlike a mammogram, which is basically an X-ray, an ultrasound test, or sonogram, involves using a small probe and ultrasound gel to expose the body to high-frequency sound waves. The test produces pictures of the inside of the body using sound waves.
The cancer center takes a holistic approach to treating breast cancer patients, according to Manasseh, who has been there three months. To make patients feel more comfortable, the center doesn’t look like a doctor’s office, she said. “The center has been designed in a spa design concept. There are trees, running water,” she said, adding that the facility offers a soothing atmosphere.
The doctors meet every week to discuss each and every case, she said. “Every single patient gets reviewed on a weekly basis,” she said. “You need a dedicated team of specialists,” Manasseh said.
For more information, call the cancer center at 718-765-2550.