Halfway through 2019, there have already been nearly 39.5 million mammogram procedures in the United States, according to the Food and Drug Administration. At the PeaceHealth United General Medical Center Breast Care Suite in Sedro-Woolley, about 190 mammograms were being conducted each month. But that number is rising after the April installation of the newest Hologic Genius 3D Mammography technology.
The three-dimensional (3D) examination provides earlier and more accurate breast cancer detection than a traditional 2D exam, explains Rod Dalseg, director of professional services at United General. “It’s been really phenomenal for our community,” he says. “We’re now able to find smaller cancers than we were able to before, especially for those women who have dense breasts.”
3D mammography imaging, Dalseg says, can be thought of like a book. With a traditional mammogram, the book is seen in two different dimensions. Whatever is on the pages between the closed covers are overlapped with surrounding pages. But in 3D, each page can be examined individually. That’s important for patients with dense breast tissue, as 2D mammograms sometimes require additional screenings due to uncertainty with initial findings. Genius 3D reduces these often-unnecessary callbacks by up to 40 percent.
“With Genius 3D, we can take individual slices, kind of like you do with a CAT scan,” Dalseg says. “The result is being able to see the structures much more clearly.”
Nearly half of women over age 40 have dense breast tissue – defined as having more glandular and fibrous tissue than fatty tissue – that increases their risk of breast cancer, still the number one cancer in women worldwide. With traditional mammograms, lesions may be obscured by the dense tissue, making cancers harder to detect. Or, it may result in false alarms.
The Hologic Genius 3D exam is the only mammogram FDA-approved as superior for women with dense breasts. Many women may not even realize they have dense breasts, and the best way to find out is through a mammogram.
For the patient, the Genius 3D exam is basically no different than a conventional exam. A technologist properly positions a person, compresses the breast, and takes images from different angles. In 2D, images are taken at 90-degree angles. With Genius 3D, the images are taken at 15-degree intervals in each direction, allowing individual slices of tissue to be examined.
In having the latest version of the technology, PeaceHealth United General also has the highest resolution of any breast imaging device in the region.
Having Genius 3D technology in Sedro-Woolley also means much shorter travel times for residents, who’d otherwise have to drive to Anacortes, or even further away to places like Bellingham and Everett, Dalseg says.
Genius exams are covered and paid for by Medicare and most private insurers. In order to ensure you get a 3D mammogram, simply specify that you want one during appointment scheduling. When you check in for your mammogram, confirm with a receptionist.
It’s estimated that one out of every eight women will develop breast cancer in her lifetime, and eight of every nine women diagnosed with the disease have no family history.
To schedule a mammogram today, call 360-856-7244, or visit the Breast Care Suite, located at 2000 Hospital Drive in Sedro-Woolley.