Advanced 3D Mammography Can Lead To Easier, Earlier Detection of Breast Cancer


October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, which is an annual campaign to increase awareness of the disease. While most people are aware of breast cancer, many forget to take the necessary steps to detect the disease in its early stages and encourage others to do the same. Mammograms are a key to early detection and play a vital role in saving lives of breast cancer patients.
Ste. Genevieve County Memorial Hospital (SGCMH) now offers 3D Mammography, the latest advance in the fight against breast cancer, at its Bloomsdale Medical Centre.
“3D mammography, also known as breast tomosynthesis, is almost like a CT scan of the breast,” explained Theresa Cavins, MD, breast surgeon, SGCMH Chief of Surgery and Medical Director of Métis Breast Center. “It takes pictures of thin slices of the breast from different angles and computer software is used to reconstruct an image. It actually gives us a clearer picture, especially in women with dense breasts. The wonderful thing about 3D mammography is it increases our detection of early breast cancers by up to 40%.”
Dr. Cavins likened the new 3D technology to our common-place cell phones.
“It’s state of the art,” she said. “Kind of like a new phone--you love your old phone, but as soon as the new one comes out with a better camera and higher pixels, you want that. There’s nothing wrong with the old phone (i.e. 2D digital mammography), but we know that women with dense breasts can greatly benefit from 3D mammography.”
In recent studies, the 3D Mammography exams not only were able to find cancers that remained undetected by traditional mammograms, but also were able to significantly reduce the number of false exam results – cutting back the number of callbacks for unnecessary additional screenings, Dr. Cavins stated.
“That’s a big deal when you get your mammogram,” she said. “When you get that call back, it doesn’t necessarily mean there is anything wrong, but we need to take a look at something more closely. And no one likes to get that call. It’s inconvenient and anxiety provoking. What we know is that with 3D mammography, because it is a much clearer picture, there’s a decreased chance that you will get a call back. So that’s a really nice benefit.”
In the event something is found, that’s where Dr. Cavins comes in.
“If something is found, I’m right on site,” she said. “We have a whole breast care team, including Mary Crecelius, MSN, WHNP, APNG, CCBE who offers genetic testing. We have a very comprehensive breast center here. You can always talk to us, have your imaging, get a biopsy, genetic testing or have your family history evaluated, all in one place. I’m the breast surgeon, but it takes a whole little city here.”
Dr. Cavins said if your doctor doesn’t remind you to get a mammogram, you can come in to Métis Breast Center. All we need is your doctor’s order, and that can be phoned in. Mammogram screening appointments at the Bloomsdale Medical Centre are available Monday through Friday from 9:00 am – 5:30 pm, however, weekday evening and Saturday mammogram appointments are available upon request.
There’s only one requirement to the new 3D mammography. Because the technology is fairly new, it is important to check coverage with your insurance company for the additional charges for the 3D screening. But, Cavins explained that since the benefits of 3D far outweigh traditional mammography, SGCMH will only charge a $25 up-front payment if insurance coverage is not available. The 3D mammography is currently only available at the Bloomsdale Medical Centre.
Dr. Cavins will be attending the hospital’s annual Spirit of Pink, October 13 at the DuBourg Centre to talk more about 3D mammography. Mary Crecelius will also be available to explain genetic testing. This year’s Spirit of Pink theme is “Don’t bet on your breast health,” and will have a casino-like atmosphere. For more information or to register for the event, call 573-883-4402 or register online. The cost is $15 per person and cancer survivors can attend free. The cost includes hors d'oeuvres, wine glass and give-away. Seating is limited.

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