Breast Cancer Awareness Month: ‘The Standard Mammogram Is Missing 50% Of Breast Cancer Diagnoses’

(CBS Local)– October is Breast Cancer Awareness month and ultra sound technician and breast cancer educator Jasmine Khorsandi is focused on educating women about their health and their bodies. The biggest thing Khorsandi wants people to know is that nine out of 10 women have dense breast tissue, which means a person has more breast tissue than fat.

According to Khorsandi, the standard mammogram is missing 50% of breast cancer diagnoses in women because of its inability to tell the difference between a tumor and dense breast tissue. The ultra sound technician wants women to understand that they aren’t necessarily in the clear if they get a good result from their mammogram.

BERLIN – APRIL 08: A digital image is seen at the mammamobil on April 8, 2008 in Berlin, Germany. At the mobile mammogram service, patients can receive a mammogram checkup. A mammogram is an image of the breast produced by mammography which is performed to detect breast cancer. (Photo by Andreas Rentz/Getty Images)

“A lot of women are getting something called ‘happygram’ letters in the mail where it says normal mammogram,” said Khorsandi, in an interview with CBS Local’s DJ Sixsmith. “Since they look at the result and it says normal, they don’t do anything about it. Year after year, they keep going in for their annual mammogram and the tumor is being missed. By the time it is detected, a lot of times it is too late.”

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Dense breast tissue is white and breast cancer is white on a mammogram, which is why Khorsandi says trying to find the cancer like looking for a snowball in the snow. The good news is that technology has advanced and Khorsandi and her colleagues use a new machine called SonoCine, which is an ultra sound machine that can decipher the difference between dense breast tissue and a tumor. On top of becoming more informed about breast cancer, Khorsandi believes it is critical for women to routinely do self exams.

“People need to know that they need to do a self breast exam once a month, a couple days after their period,” said Khorsandi. “If they are in menopause, they should do the first of the month every month. They should definitely get to know their breasts and their lymph nodes, which is where you put on your deodorant. Once you do it every single month, you will have a baseline of what’s really going on. It’s really important to get an ultra sound starting at the age of 25 because there is no radiation and there is no harm to the tissue. It’s important to have a baseline because a lot of women are getting breast cancer in their mid 20’s-mid 30’s now.”

Watch all of DJ Sixsmith’s interviews from “The Sit-Down” series here.