Increased capacity, reduced wait times, and healthier patient outcomes Article Provided by Bonner General Health With our population on a continual incline, the need for more access to all health-related services is apparent. Mammography services were a clear need. With an overwhelming amount of support from our community through the 2023 Heart Ball, Bonner General Health (BGH) purchased and installed a second Selenia Dimensions 3D mammography unit. BGH went live, screening the first patients on the new unit on April 10, 2023.
“The increased capacity has had a profound impact on the availability and access to screening, diagnostic, and breast biopsy services,” according to Daniel Holland, director of Diagnostic Imaging at BGH. “This unit has allowed Bonner General Health to change its mammography program by increasing the availability of screening access by 80 percent, diagnostic access by 66 percent, and biopsy slots by 150 percent.”
The most significant impact that the increased access has had on care is making it possible to get a patient from screening through their diagnostic and a biopsy, if necessary, within one week. “Reducing the time between a screening mammogram and the diagnosis of breast cancer has a significant impact on the emotional well-being of our patients and their care outcomes,” Holland adds.
What is the significance? “3D mammography is a critical technology because it has an increased sensitivity that can diagnose more cancers at an earlier stage than standard mammography,” says Dr. Hannah Robbins, a local general surgeon specializing in breast cancer surgeries. “Mammography can diagnose a cancer one-and-a-half to four years before you can feel it in the breast.”
What is the difference? A screening mammogram involves two images of each breast and detects lumps or other abnormalities. They are used to find cancer before any symptoms occur, thus catching cancer early and with better outcomes, whereas a diagnostic mammogram is used to further analyze a lump or abnormality in the breast after they have been detected.
The American Cancer Society recommends that women aged 45 to 54 start getting a screening mammogram every year. Talking with your provider about your family history and risk factors can help determine when to start mammogram screening.
What should I expect? To get a mammogram, you must undress above the waist and change into a gown, open in the front.
You and the screening technologist will be the only ones in the room. Your breast will be compressed between two plates for 10 to 15 seconds while an X-ray is taken and again after changing positions for a side-to-side image. You may feel some discomfort when your breasts are compressed. However, it is relatively quick, and the technologist can try to adjust the compression to your comfort if needed.
Two views are typically taken of each breast during a screening mammogram. A diagnostic mammogram will include additional imaging focusing on the area in question. Finally, a radiologist and results read mammograms will be reported by your provider.
“Breast cancer is a disease we cannot necessarily prevent,” notes BGH Family Practice Provider Nichole Grimm, FNP. “Some of us have higher risk factors than others, so the importance of screening for breast cancer allows us to detect very early changes in breast tissue before they become cancerous and spread through the body.” Honor your breasts and your health and schedule a preventative health mammogram. In recognition of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, follow our website, Facebook and Instagram for information on the upcoming Sip & Screen Mammography Event in October.