3-D Mammography patient thankful for new technology

Article Date: Jun 26, 2013

Sandra Sojka stands in front of the 3d mammogram machine

“It saved my life”

Sandra Sojka hates to think what would have happened if doctors hadn't urged her to have a follow up mammogram—with the latest screening tool available in the fight against breast cancer.

In March, Sojka had her annual check with the digital 2-D mammogram, considered the "gold standard" for detection of breast cancer. The test picked up a suspicious small shaded area on her right side.  Because of her family history—her mother and two aunts were diagnosed with breast cancer—physicians sent her to Alegent Creighton Health Lakeside Hospital for a 3-D mammogram. It's new and the only 3-D machine between Des Moines and St. Louis.

Sojka said the suspicious spot amounted to nothing but the new technology, which turns 15 digital breast images into a stack of very thin layers or slices, found another area of concern. "It was in a whole different area that never showed up in the first test," she said. "I have dense tissue and it's really hard to see anything but the 3-D picked it up."

An MRI and a biopsy confirmed she had Stage One lobular cancer.

"You wake up and think, 'I'm really sick. I can't believe I'm sick and going through this.' My luck ran out but at least we found it," she said.

Sojka had a bilateral mastectomy and reconstructive surgery in late April. "This is okay," she said. "We'll get through this. I want to live a long time."

Sojka credited early detection for a good outcome.

"In a year's time when I went in for another mammogram, I would have been pretty sick by then," she reflected.  Sojka felt her mom—who fought breast cancer twice—was watching over her. And so were some dedicated professionals who directed her to the next generation in mammography…today.

Patients who should consider 3-D mammography are those who are at high risk due to previous cancer, currently have a lump, "dense" breast tissue or a family history of cancer.

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