Alegent Health Lakeside Hospital Offers Digital Mammography for Early Breast Cancer Detection
Release Date: 11/29/2006

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Studies Show Woman with Dense Breasts, are Younger than 50 or are Premenipausal may Benefit from a Digital Mammogram

OMAHA, Neb.—Alegent Health Lakeside Hospital has a powerful new tool to aid in the early detection of breast cancer through digital mammography. The hospital’s Diagnostic Department recently converted from analog to digital, replacing three standard film mammography machines with Siemens MAMMOMAT NovationDR, allowing for clearer detail, faster results and in some cases, more accurate diagnosis in the earliest stages of breast cancer. Results of the Digital Mammography Screening Trial (DMIST) conducted by the American Cancer institute has shown that in the majority of cases, digital and standard film mammography are equally effective in breast cancer detection, but for women who have dense breast, are pre- or perimenopausal or are younger than 50 years old, they may benefit from a digital mammogram.

“Breast cancer will cause more than 40,000 deaths in the U.S. this year alone, making the need for advanced screening technology to detect this often devastating disease in its infancy so vital,” said Jo Fettin, operations director of Diagnostic Services at Lakeside Hospital. “DMIST has become the gold standard in accessing the value of digital mammography and the early breast cancer detection for women who aren’t yet 50, have dense breasts and are premenopausal. This breakthrough in technology allows for clearer pictures, faster results and detection at an earlier stage, making a tremendous difference for thousands of women.”

Fettin says digital mammography is similar to standard mammography, in that X-rays are used to produce detailed images of the breast. She says with a conventional mammography, which has been used for the past 35 years, images are recorded on film using an x-ray cassette, which is viewed by a radiologist using a “light box” and then stored in the facility’s archives.

The conversion to digital mammography captures the breast image using a digital receptor that can within minutes be reviewed on a computer screen which can be stored or sent electronically. Whereas film mammography has always been limited by the film itself; digital mammography allows clinicians to easily manipulate the image after the exam is complete.

From the patient’s viewpoint, a digital mammogram is virtually the same as a standard film mammogram, in terms of breast compression. The difference becomes clear upon exposure for the clinician, as with a digital mammogram, the image of the breast shows up on the computer monitor in less than a minute after the exposure is complete. The digital image can be manipulated to enhance the image after the exam is complete. The magnification, orientation, brightness and contrast of the image may also be altered after the exam is completed to help the radiologist see certain areas of the breast more clearly. The result of this image manipulation is fewer patient call backs for additional imaging and special views. Digital equipment has also shown less radiation exposure risk to the breast. It also allows Lakeside Hospital the ability to schedule additional patients throughout the day.

“Digital mammography not only provides a clearer detail of the breast image in real time, for the patient who might have had an abnormal mammography in the past, it means peace of mind,” said Patricia Helke, radiologist at Lakeside Hospital. “I am able to enhance virtually any part of the breast image that appears interesting for a more in-depth study. This advanced image quality translates to higher patient satisfaction and better outcomes.”

According to the American Cancer Society (ACS), an estimated 211,240 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in the U.S. this year alone; making it the most commonly diagnosed non-skin cancer, and the second leading cause of cancer-related death in women. The ACS recommends annual mammograms for women beginning at age 40, with the exception being those who have a family history, which then a baseline is recommended at age 35. For women in their 20s and 30s, a clinical breast exam is suggested as part of a regular health exam. Another option for women starting in their 20s is to a monthly breast self exam and any changes reported immediately to a health professional.