Mammograms Matter

By Ruth Melvin, RT(M)

For the Valley Bugler

October is Breast Cancer Awareness month. What does that mean? For woman in their forties and at average risk for breast cancer, it means it’s time for your screening mammogram. Women who are at high risk should follow their doctor’s recommendations. If you don’t already know your breast cancer risk, you can ask your health care provider.

Mammograms are important because…

• Digital breast tomosynthesis (tomo), also known as 3D mammography, is a revolutionary new screening and diagnostic breast imaging tool to improve the early detection of breast cancer.

During the 3D part of the exam, an x-ray arm sweeps over the breast, taking multiple images in seconds.

Images are displayed as a series of thin slices that can be viewed by our radiologists as individual images or in a dynamic interactive animation. Approved as an imaging modality by the FDA in early 2011, 3D mammography is used in combination with 2D digital mammography.

• Studies have demonstrated a 10%-30% increase in overall breast cancer detection (over 2D alone).

This ability to detect breast cancer at an earlier stage will save more lives. Two of the top benefits are improving the early detection of breast cancer and providing peace of mind due to greater clarity and accuracy.

This increased accuracy reduces the number of call-backs (by as much at 30%), sparing women the anxiety, inconvenience and expense of coming back for further imaging. 

• Traditional digital mammography takes two-dimensional pictures of the breast and is still one of the most advanced tools available for detecting breast abnormalities.

But rather than viewing the breast tissue in 2D images, our radiologists can examine the tissue one thin layer at a time, in a sense traveling through the structure of the breast like flipping pages of a book. Fine details are more visible and are less likely to be hidden by overlapping tissue.

• Mammogram often can detect potential problems before they can be felt. Early detection greatly increases treatment options and the likelihood of successful recovery. Although 2D/3D combination exams have been proven to detect more cancers, the breast center continues to support the American Cancer Society’s guidelines which recommend that women 40 and older receive a routine screening mammogram every year.

So, whether this is your first mammogram or your regular breast care mammogram, we welcome you to our Kearney Breast Center for your breast screening. We offer advanced 3D imaging combined with C-View software, resulting in superior imaging results, cutting the radiation does by half while detecting 41 percent more invasive cancers reducing the need for a repeat mammogram.

Mammogram Statistics: Mammography is good at finding breast cancer, especially in women ages 50 and older. Overall, the sensitivity of mammography is about 87%. This means mammography correctly identifies about 87% of women who truly have breast cancer.

Ladies, I hope you’ll schedule a mammogram soon for yourself and for those you love.

Best of breast care,

Ruth Melvin, RT(M)

Ruth is the Clinical Operations Supervisor at the Kearney Breast Center at PeaceHealth St. John Medical Center. She has provided the women with mammography services for 30 years.

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