County Hospital and Clinics to provide 3D mammography

By David Hotle, The JOURNAL


Starting in mid-November, Washington County Hospital and Clinics (WCHC) will begin providing 3D Mammography featuring cutting-edge technology that offers the most comprehensive breast scans.

The installation of the new mammography technology is part of an organizational effort to meet the needs of Washington County. A mammogram is an X-ray of the breast. The new $385,000 Genius 3D Mammography system that will be used will allow physicians to examine breast tissue layer by layer making fine details more visible and no longer hidden in layers of tissue. Conventional 2D mammograms provide doctors with a 2D image to evaluate the breast. This can be limiting due to overlapping layers of tissue, which can sometimes produce unclear results, false alarms or worse - cancer being missed. Genius exams deliver a series of detailed breast images, allowing doctors to better evaluate breasts layer by layer, and over 200 clinical studies support the beliefs of this technology.

?Adding 3D mammography is the right thing for our patients and meets our mission of improving health in all of our communities,? Dr. Stephan Schomer, Interim CEO of WCHC, said.

Studies show the Genius 3D Mammography exam has greater accuracy than 2D mammography for women across a variety of ages and breast densities. It?s the only mammogram FDA approved as superior for women with dense breasts.

The Genius 3D Mammography exam is acquired on the Hologic 3D Mammography system and consists of a 2D and 3D image set, where the 2D image can be either an acquired 2D image or a 2D image generated from the 3D image set. The Genius exam is only available on the Hologic 3D Mammogram system. Greater accuracy means better breast cancer detection and a reduced chance of being called back for additional screenings.

?This technology enhances the clarity of images and results in fewer unnecessary biopsies and recalls,? said Angie Atkins, RT (R) (M) (CT), technical supervisor of Imaging Services at WCHC. ?The use of 3D Mammography is more accurate than conventional mammograms for women with dense or non-dense breasts and can detect 41 percent more invasive breast cancers than conventional mammography.?

She said the unit is the latest technology in use and is being used widely at many facilities. She said the data sets of images are similar to a CAT scan.

The process of the breast exam is the same as with the conventional 2D mammography with no additional compression required. The Genius 3D Mammography system, manufactured by Hologic, boasts a 5-year breast cancer survival rate of nearly 100 percent when early detection is made and also reduces unnecessary callback by as much as 40 percent.

Atkins said the additional expense to the patient is very little. She said there would be an additional $88 fee. Currently insurance covers 2D mammograms with no additional cost to the patient. She said 3D technology is coming and most insurance companies do cover 3D. She said patients are advised to check with their insurance providers to determine if they will have to pay for the $88 separately.

WCHC began exploring whether to purchase the technology about two years ago. Atkins said most clinics no have this technology. She said the radiology group the hospital works with is a strong proponent of 3D imaging. After doing research into the units available, this was the one the hospital chose to purchase. She said it is the most widely used and has the features the staff wanted.

?Mammograms are very important,? Atkins said. ?Finding something that is small enough that you can?t feel ? pea sized or smaller ? before it becomes something big enough for you to feel is the main goal of mammography. To find something like that before it has a chance to grow or spread.?

According to statistics, one in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer at some point in their lives. Studies show with early detection, women have a higher survival rate.

For more information or to schedule a mammogram, contact WCHC Imaging Services at (319) 863-3964.