CMC mammography finds breast cancers faster with sharper images

Pam Talley, the chief mammography technician at Caldwell Medical Center, demonstrates some of the features of the medical center’s new Genius Mammography machine, which scans a breast with higher-resolution imaging, helping doctors find cancers faster and begin treatment sooner.

Caldwell Medial Center has new technology that will help detect breast cancer faster, which will help treatment and healing begin sooner.

The Genius 3D Mammography unit provides a fast, non-invasive breast examination that scans the breast and provides low-dose X-ray images for better resolution and definition of the 3-dimensional images.

The medical center has had the machine since Sept. 30 and is its first 3-D mammography unit. The estimated cost was about $360,000.

“People will love it,” said Imaging Manager Robbie Wells of Caldwell Medical Center. “It is more comfortable, and it’s curved so it fits around the breast better. We’ve heard really good things about it.”

Pam Talley is the chief mammography technician at Caldwell Medical Center who will work with patients who come for breast exams.

“It takes 3-D images, and the camera moves back and forth,” she said. “It takes a series of images, then it comes back up straight and then, it takes a traditional 2-D picture.

“When you’re getting a CAT (computed axial tomography) scan, it takes ‘slices’ of pictures, so you get not only one image, but you also have several to scroll through in the depth of the picture.”

Each “slice” is an image of a small section of the breast that can be examined in detail. The machine takes several “slice” images at several different angles to get a more complete picture of the breast.

“All of our images are read here,” Talley said. “Basically, it is sent through the hospital’s (computer) system, and then, they’re sent to the radiologist. It is faster and it has a lot more detail in its images.”

That depth and detail helps doctors find and diagnose cancers quicker so patients can be treated earlier, increasing the chances of healing, perhaps even preventing a breast from being removed.

“You’ll see a lesion when it’s a lot smaller,” Talley said. “You have more detail per image. With this machine, you get that original 2-D image, but you also get ‘slices’ of that image.

“The CT (computerized tomography) does ‘slices’ — like a loaf of bread, you could say — and each one, you’re following it down to see where the (lesion) ends. You actually go through the breast in sections.”

The machine is adjustable to fit the height of patients, even those in wheelchairs with other adjustments to better fit the shape of the breast and add comfort to the patient while being scanned.

Talley said she was impressed with the sharpness of the images she has seen from the mammography machine, compared with previous images.

Patients should be referred by their doctor to have 3-D breast imaging done.

Breast cancer remains the second-most common cancer among American women and the second-leading cause of death. According to the American Cancer Society, a woman in the United States has a 13% chance of getting breast cancer sometime in her life.

ACS estimates that there will be about 276,480 new cases of invasive breast cancer in 2020 and that about 42,170 women will die from breast cancer. It adds that the incidence rates for breast cancer have increase by about 0.3% per year.

Since 2007, breast cancer death rates have been steady in women younger than 50, but have continued to decrease in older women. From 2013 to 2017, the death rate decreased by 1.3% per year.

For more information about cancer, visit the ACS website at cancer.org.