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Breast Cancer: Answers from Experts Drs. David Euhus and Susan Harvey

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Breast cancer is the second-most common cancer among women in the United States, with nearly one in eight women developing the disease in their lifetime.

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Dr. David Euhus of the Johns Hopkins Breast Center and Dr. Susan Harvey of Johns Hopkins Imaging answer questions on when to begin scheduling a mammogram, what to do if you recognize a breast cyst and more. 

Q: I know several people in their 30s with breast cancer. Why are we told not to get mammograms until we are 40?

A: The incidence of breast cancer is strongly related to age. As we get older, our risk increases. While women get breast cancer in their 30s, screening the entire population in their 30s likely would not provide the intended benefit of early diagnosis.

Q: Is there any risk in having breast mammograms? If so, why do we encourage women to have such a risky screening test?

A: To our knowledge, for those over the age of 30, there is no evidence that the radiation exposure of a mammogram increases breast cancer risk.

Q: Are cysts in the breast dangerous? Can they become cancerous and should they be removed?

A: There are many different types of cysts. Most are called simple cysts and are not related to breast cancer or the risk of breast cancer. The best way to evaluate cysts is with an ultrasound of the breast.

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Meet Dr. David Euhus

Dr. David Euhus is the chief of breast surgery in the Division of Surgical Oncology at Johns Hopkins. Dr. Euhus specializes in in breast surgery procedures that include nipple-sparing mastectomy and hidden incisions to reduce visible scarring. He also has extensive research in breast cancer genetics.

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Q: Should all women get an ultrasound and a screening mammogram yearly?

A: The screening guidelines that we follow recommend annual mammograms beginning at age 40. This may be different for high-risk women. The use of ultrasound as a supplement to a screening mammogram depends on several factors.

Mammography & Breast Cancer Screening Guidelines

Dr. Cecelia Brenneke, medical director of Johns Hopkins Imaging at Green Spring Station, details why it’s important for women to get screened for mammograms.

Breast Reconstruction Options

Most women treated for breast cancer are eligible for breast reconstruction. Lillie Shockney of the Johns Hopkins Breast Center discusses the many available options.

Surgical Breast Biopsy Options

Dr. Lisa Jacobs, Johns Hopkins breast surgeon and director of the Howard County General Hospital Breast Center, describes several common types of breast biopsy procedures including excisional biopsy, wire localization biopsy, skin punch biopsy and sentinel lymph node biopsy.

Mammography and Tomosynthesis

Johns Hopkins breast imaging expert Dr. Susan Harvey explains 3D mammography, or tomosynthesis, and discusses the benefits of this breast cancer screening tool. Johns Hopkins offers tomosynthesis at Johns Hopkins Imaging in Green Spring Station, Maryland.

Submit Your Questions

Ask an Expert is a free question-and-answer service about breast cancer and breast health offered by Johns Hopkins. Either Lillie Shockney of the Johns Hopkins Breast Center or another medical professional at the Breast Center will respond to your request within one week.

More about Breast Cancer

Learn more about breast cancer in the Johns Hopkins Health Library.


Stopping Breast Cancer Leader Cells | Science: Out of the Box

Johns Hopkins' cell biologist Andy Ewald explains his latest finding on how breast cancer cells spread and how they might be stopped.

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