New Mammography Technology Available
New technology that shows great promise in the fight against breast cancer will soon be available at FirstHealth Moore Regional Hospital.
Moore Regional's Hologic Breast Imaging system is a full-field digital system that uses computers and large, specially designed digital detectors that produce lower patient radiation dose. Images are displayed on a high-resolution computer monitor and transmitted and stored just like computer files.
"From the patient's point of view, having a digital mammogram is very much like having a conventional screen-film mammogram," says Dr. Emily Averbook, of Pinehurst Radiology Associates. "Both film-based and digital mammography use compression and X-rays to create clear images of the inside of the breast.
"Unlike film-based mammography, however, digital mammograms produce images that appear on the technologist's monitor in a matter of seconds. There is no waiting for film to develop, which can mean a shorter time spent in the breast imaging suite."
Unlike other parts of the body, the breast is composed mainly of soft tissue. As a result, when breast tissue is X-rayed, the resulting image looks like a smoky haze, making it difficult to see tiny "spots," called microcalcifications, and other subtle signs of early cancer.
The full field digital mammography system that will be available for use at Moore Regional by mid-December offers features that not only reduce procedure time but also improve patient comfort and produce high-quality images with better visualization of breast tissue to aid in the early detection of breast cancer.
With digital mammography, the radiologist uses special high-resolution monitors to review the electronic images of the breast. The physician can adjust the brightness, change contrast and zoom in for close-ups of specific areas of interest.
"Being able to manipulate images is one of the main benefits of digital technology," Averbook says. "Another convenience of digital over film-based systems is the ability to greatly reduce the need for retakes due to over- or under-exposure. This reduces exposure to X-rays."
Because they are electronic, digital mammography images can be transmitted quickly across a network. They can also be easily stored, copied without loss of information, and transmitted and received in a more streamlined manner. That eliminates dependence on only one set of "original" films.
"Our staff is highly trained, and our equipment is state of the art," Averbook says. "We are committed to providing exceptional care to our patients."
In most cases, mammography can identify an abnormal breast mass as much as two years before it can be detected by touch. The American Cancer Society recommends that all women 40 years of age and over have a screening mammogram every year in association with an annual clinical breast examination and monthly breast self-examination.
Although there has been a decline in the rate of deaths in recent years, breast cancer is still the second-leading cause of cancer death in women, exceeded only by lung cancer. However, studies have shown that when breast cancer is detected early, the chance for successful treatment is nearly 100 percent.
With the introduction of the new digital system, Moore Regional Hospital's Imaging Department will offer extended hours for mammography appointments, including evenings and Saturdays. Soft Touch Mammo pads are also available for a more comfortable mammogram.
Anyone needing more information can call 715-1478.
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