Radiology Associates of South Florida

Appointments: 786-573-6000

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Screening Exams

What is a "screening" exam? A screening examination is one that is done on asymptomatic patients in order to "catch" a process early enough to intervene and hopefully avoid complications in the future. In the non-medical world, you might check your gutters every 6 months to make sure leaves haven't built up or check your oil with a dipstick at the gas station every month. In your personal life, you may remember being screened for scoliosis or for your vision. Screening exams are important for several types of conditions, and large scientific trials have often proved their validity.


Common Cancer Types

  • Cancer Type
  • Estimated New Cases
  • Estimated Deaths
  • Bladder
  • 69,250
  • 14,990
  • Breast (Female - Male)
  • 230,480 - 2,140
  • 39,520 - 450
  • Colon and Rectal (Combined)
  • 141,210<
  • 49,380
  • Endometrial
  • 46,470
  • 8,120
  • Kidney (Renal Cell) Cancer
  • 56,046
  • 12,070
  • Leukemia (All Types)
  • 44,600
  • 21,780
  • Lung (Including Bronchus)
  • 221,130
  • 156,940
  • Melanoma
  • 70,230
  • 8,790
  • Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma
  • 66,360
  • 19,320
  • Pancreatic
  • 44,030
  • 37,660
  • Prostate
  • 240,890
  • 33,720
  • Thyroid
  • 48,020
  • 1,740

References:
American Cancer Society: Cancer Facts and Figures 2011. Atlanta, Ga: American Cancer Society, 2011. Also available online (PDF - 1,400 KB). Last accessed July 7, 2011.

Breast Cancer

Breast cancer is the cancer with the highest incidence. That means more new cases of breast cancer are found than any other type of cancer. There has been recent controversy on the subject over when to start and how frequently to screen. The US Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) in 2009 questioned the standard approach and recommended screening every other year, starting at age 50. The American Cancer Society, as well as RASF, disagrees and recommends annual screening for breast cancer in women starting at age 40. Baseline mammography at age 35 is also helpful. The USPSTF recommendation concluded that women age 40-49 might not have a mortality benefit large enough to justify screening all women. We disagree. Not only is the mortality benefit a significant one, but we feel that the USPSTF did not take into account all the data available and that the decision to recommend against screening in certain women will delay the diagnosis of breast cancers and very negatively impact the health of young women who are otherwise in the primes of their lives. Please discuss this with your doctor if you have any concerns or questions, and we refer you to the excellent resources at the American Cancer Society for further reading.

Our recommendations:

  • Annual mammography in women starting at age 40. Baseline mammography at age 35 is helpful
  • Some women - because of their family history, a genetic tendency, or certain other factors - should be screened with breast MRI in addition to mammograms
  • Mammography is provided at almost all hospital and outpatient Baptist imaging locations*
  • Breast MRI is provided at Baptist Hospital, South Miami Hospital Breast Center, Homestead Hospital, Coral Gables Baptist Medical Plaza (BMP), Miami Lakes BMP, Tamiami BMP, and Davie BMP

* Mammography currently not offered at Country Walk BMP, Palmetto Bay BMP or at Doctor's Hospital.

Lung Cancer

Lung cancer is by far the leading cause of cancer death. Although the ACS has not formally weighed in on screening for lung cancer, a large trial has recently provided important information. The National Lung Screening Trial (NLST) organized by the National Cancer Institute found that participants who received low-dose lung screening CT scans had a 20% lower risk of dying from lung cancer than participants screened with standard chest x-rays. This is a very significant risk reduction and will likely change medical practice over the next few years. RASF performs low-dose screening chest CTs, and if you are interested in screening for lung cancer, please discuss the issue with your primary care physician. Please keep in mind that NLST participants were all long-term smokers aged 55 to 74.

Our recommendations:

  • If you are a smoker over 50, please discuss with your doctor the possibility of a low-dose screening CT of the lungs.
  • Low-dose CT screening is available at all Baptist locations offering CT.

A low-dose screening CT may not be covered by insurance, but rates for the exam, as offered through Baptist Health, are very competitive.

Colon Cancer

The ACS recommends CT colonography every 5 years starting at age 50. This may be in addition to laboratory tests ordered by your physicians. CT colonography is a non-invasive alternative to colonoscopy. Using 3D workstations, an RASF radiologist can map the entirety of the colon from the results of a CT scan, without needing to resort to an invasive procedure. As an advantage over colonoscopy, a CT colonography can also evaluate you for abnormal lymph nodes and abnormalities of other structures in the abdomen and pelvis.

Our recommendations:

  • CT Colonography every 5 years starting at age 50
  • CT Colonography is currently only provided at Baptist Hospital, main campus

Heart Disease

Heart disease is the leading killer in the US. Although lifestyle plays a large role, so do genetics, and there are many ways to keep track of cardiovascular disease. Measuring the atherosclerotic plaque that builds up in your arteries can be done indirectly, using blood tests like a cholesterol test, or directly by using radiological exams to visualize plaque. One way to estimate your risk of having a cardiovascular event is to use the Framingham Risk Score, which uses your age, gender, smoking status, cholesterol, and blood pressure to calculate your 10-year risk of having a heart attack. Growing evidence indicates that another measurement, the cardiac calcium score, may significantly improve the accuracy of the Framingham Risk Score in predicting heart disease.

The cardiac CT calcium score, developed by an RASF radiologist, Dr. Warren Janowitz, and his colleague, Dr. Arthur Agatston (preventive cardiologist and inventor of the South Beach Diet), provides you with a number that "counts" how much calcified plaque has built up in your coronary arteries. This provides direct proof of atherosclerosis building up in the coronary arteries. A score of 0 is normal, with no detectable calcified plaque. A score of 0-100 is a mild calcified plaque burden. A score of 101-400 is a moderate calcified plaque burden. A score over 400 is a severe burden. You can use this calculator, provided by the MESA trial of the NIH, to see how your calcium score compares to other patients with demographics similar to your own.

Our recommendations:

  • Please talk to your physician about whether a cardiac CT calcium score may be useful for making decisions about your health
  • Cardiac CT calcium score testing is offered at all Baptist hospitals, BCVI, the Baptist Outpatient Center, as well as Baptist Medical Plazas in Westchester, Coral Gables, Davie, Coral Springs, and Pembroke Pines.

A cardiac CT calcium score may not be covered by insurance, but rates for the exam, as offered through Baptist Health, are very competitive.

Largest Radiology Group in Miami


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