Wednesday, July 16, 2014
A recent study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) shows that an enhanced version of 3D mammography can detect more invasive cancers than a traditional mammogram.
According to that published research, 3D mammography, also called tomosynthesis, detected 30 percent more cancers overall, as well as 41 percent more invasive cancers than conventional digital mammography alone.
Additionally, tomosynthesis reduced by 15 percent the number of women who were called back for additional imaging due to false alarms.
That’s good news for our community. Even though breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer among women in South Carolina and the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths among women in our state, it is treatable and survivable when detected early.
Second, 3D mammography, which was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in 2011, is available at Georgetown Hospital System facilities.
In fact, GHS is the only health care provider in our area to offer 3D mammography for breast cancer screening. 3D mammography is offered at the Imaging Center at Waccamaw Medical Park East, Waccamaw Women’s Imaging and Georgetown Memorial Hospital.
Screening takes no longer than ordinary mammograms.
So how does it work? The name may be long and fancy, but the technique is simple.
One researcher, from the University of Pennsylvania, likened 3D mammography to reading a book.
Whereas 2D mammography provides a look at “the cover,” 3D images provide greater detail by showing layers of tissue, similar to turning the individual pages of a book. It is this precision that reduces the number of false positives and allows a doctor to find cancers concealed by breast tissue.
According to statistics compiled by the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control, women who are diagnosed with breast cancer at the earliest stage, before the cancer has spread to lymph nodes or other locations outside the breast, have a 99-percent chance of surviving at least five years.
However, according to American Cancer Society statistics, breast cancer patients from lower-income areas have lower five-year survival rates than those from higher-income areas at every stage of diagnosis.
That’s why access to this technology is critical. GHS’ Indigent Breast Cancer Fund provides qualified women care, from diagnosis and treatment through reconstructive surgery, if needed. Last year, the fund provided more than 960 free mammograms and clinical breast exams, along with follow-up care as needed.
Breast Cancer Awareness Month (October) is just around the corner, and a major event in our community is the annual GHS Foundation Women’s Board two-mile walk, which raises monies for the Indigent Breast Cancer Fund.
This year’s walk is set for Oct. 4. We hope to see you there.
Dr. Craig Brackett is a physician with the Coastal Carolina Breast Center, located at the Imaging Center at Waccamaw Medical Park-East in Murrells Inlet. The center is part of Georgetown Physician Services.