What You Should Know for Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Christine Teal, director of the GW Breast Care Center, weighs in on what every woman should know about breast health.

Dr. Christine Teal
Christine Teal, director of the GW Breast Care Center, said in most cases women should start having mammograms annually at age 40. (Photo: GW Medical Faculty Associates)
October 23, 2018

By Kristen Mitchell

The George Washington University Breast Care Center plays an important role in meeting the needs of women in the Washington, D.C., area.

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and GW Today recently spoke with Christine Teal, director of the Breast Care Center and associate professor of surgery at the School of Medicine and Health Sciences, about the latest in breast health and medical advances.

Read what she had to say:

Q: What do you think every woman should know about breast cancer?
A: That one in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer, and the risk increases with age. While doing self-examinations has not been shown to impact survival, we do feel that it is important for women to know their bodies.

Q: At what age should women start getting regular mammograms, and how often?
A: We recommend annual mammograms starting at the age of 40. If a patient has a family history of breast cancer at a young age we recommend mammograms starting at 10 years prior to the age of the family member when they were diagnosed.

Q: What guidance do you give to women who are at a higher risk for breast cancer about monitoring their health?
A: We have an outstanding high-risk program led by Rebecca Kaltman, SMHS assistant professor and medical oncologist. We encourage patients to become established with the program if they are at increased risk for breast cancer. Imaging recommendations for patients who have a genetic mutation include annual MRIs starting at the age of 25, and mammograms at six month intervals from the MRIs starting at the age of 30.

Q: What role does the GW Comprehensive Breast Center play in providing care to women in the Washington, D.C., area?
A: We are a comprehensive center with radiologists, surgeons, plastic surgeons and medical oncologists in one site. We have a holistic approach to the treatment of patients. Our number one goal is to provide outstanding care in a warm and comforting environment.

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