When you come to the Breast Examination Center of Harlem, our staff can provide you with a wide range of women's healthcare services related to breast and gynecologic cancers.
One of our specially trained nurse practitioners will give you a physical examination. She will feel your breasts and underarms for lumps or anything else unusual. Every woman should see a healthcare professional for this kind of exam every year.
We offer mammography, a procedure that uses x-rays to produce a picture of the breast. Mammography is the most widely used method for detecting breast cancer.
Pelvic Examinations and Pap Smears
During the pelvic examination, a nurse practitioner will gently press on your abdomen to feel the organs in your pelvis (uterus, vagina, ovaries, fallopian tubes, bladder, and rectum) for anything unusual about their size or shape. During this exam, she will also take a few cells from your cervix to check for cancer or other conditions, such as sexually transmitted diseases. This test is called a Pap smear.
If the nurse finds a lump or anything else unusual in your breasts or if the results of your Pap smear are not normal, one of our counselors will give you advice about other tests or procedures we may recommend. The counselor will carefully explain the test or procedure to you; she will also advise you about getting a second opinion before choosing treatment. She will encourage you to ask questions and to tell her about any concerns you may have. And she will give you some written material that will help explain these recommendations to you and your family.
Some tests or procedures - such as removal of lumps - are not done at BECH, but we can help you make arrangements for them. If you need one of these tests, your counselor will explain the test to you, give you advice, and discuss any of your questions or concerns. She will also give you information about where you can get these tests - at Harlem Hospital Center, Memorial Sloan-Kettering, or another institution. If you wish, she will make the appointment for you.
If all of your test results at BECH are normal, you will be advised to return to us in a year for routine cancer screening. If you are at high risk for developing cancer - because other women in your family have had breast cancer, for instance, or if we've recommended more tests - we will set up an appointment for you to come back to us sooner for a follow-up visit. Learn more about hereditary breast cancer.
During your visit to our center, we will show you how to do simple, at-home exams of your breasts every month. We also take our educational programs in breast self-examination (BSE) techniques to many places in the community. Video presentations, workshops, and seminars on BSE and other women's health issues have been held throughout New York in churches, senior-citizen centers, schools, businesses, street fairs, even detention centers. If you are interested in having us come to your church or other group, please call our health educator at 212-531-8000.