MOUNT AIRY — Northern Hospital of Surry County now offers breakthrough breast-cancer screening technology — called the Genius 3D Mammography exam — to residents of Mount Airy and surrounding communities. The addition of this sophisticated diagnostic tool positions Northern Hospital as the only provider in Surry County — and the three surrounding counties of Stokes, Yadkin and Patrick (VA) — to offer state-of-the-art 3D mammography to patients.
Three-dimensional (3D) imaging of the breast provides a greater level of detail than traditional two-dimensional (2D) imaging,” said Michael Leonard, director of Imaging Services for Northern Hospital. By creating a multi-layered view of the breast from many different angles, 3D images increase the detection of invasive breast cancers while also reducing the number of frightening “false positive” results.
Additionally, 3D images can more accurately distinguish an abnormality in particularly dense breast tissue — which is good news for the 40 to 50 percent of women who have dense breasts. Indeed, Northern Hospital’s newly-acquired Genius 3D Mammography exam is the only mammogram that is FDA-approved as superior for dense breasts.
“As a major provider of breast health care, Northern Hospital is pleased to provide patients access to this significantly enhanced diagnostic capability — which now supplements our full range of breast-cancer screening options,” said Leonard.
Early Detection & Self-Referral
Early detection remains the best line-of-defense in the fight against breast cancer, which is estimated to affect this year more than 330,080 American women — the majority of whom (266,120) will be newly-diagnosed with invasive breast cancer, and the rest (63,960) with non-invasive breast cancer. To encourage early detection, the American Cancer Society recommends annual mammograms for women 40- to 54-years old; and biennial exams (once every two years) for women between the ages of 55 and 79. Younger women also are encouraged to get mammograms regularly if their family history, genetics, or other factors put them at higher risk for the development of breast cancer.
Whereas most medical diagnostic procedures require a physician’s order, individuals may request a screening mammogram for themselves, provided they follow FDA guidelines by arranging to have a report of the screening results sent to a qualified medical professional, who will then review the results with the individual. “The state of North Carolina is a ‘self-requesting’ state,” said Michael Leonard, “which means that patients may independently contact a provider of mammography services [such as Northern Hospital] to request an exam.”
At Northern Hospital, patients would be given a choice between having a traditional 2D exam (also called a digital exam) or the more sophisticated and pricier Genius 3D Mammography exam. “Given the complex algorithms and proprietary nature of the software and hardware used to create the 3D images, the cost is higher — but most major insurers, including Medicare, now cover the additional cost of this enhanced technology,” said Leonard.
The 3D Experience
“From a patient’s perspective, there should be no significantly noticeable difference between a 2D and 3D breast exam, except that the 3D exam may take a few minutes longer,” said Tammy Branch, mammography coordinator at Northern Hospital. “After entering the dedicated Mammography Suite, patients are escorted to one of two warmly-decorated procedural rooms where the 20-minute screening exam is given by a certified technician,” she said. “The whole point of mammography is to detect cancer at its earliest sign, and 3D imaging gives us the best option, to date, to detect suspicious nodules or tumors in any kind of breast tissue — fatty or dense.”
Northern Hospital’s Mammography Suite is certified by the FDA and accredited by the American College of Radiology for 3D imaging and meeting all requirements of the national Mammography Quality Standards Act (MQSA). The hospital’s three specialized technicians have all received advanced training in the use of 3D imaging.
Branch and her dedicated team are comfortable helping patients understand the difference between the two types of mammography exams (2D versus 3D) so that they may make an informed decision. “The most important thing is to get screened for breast cancer; and we are delighted to be able to now offer patients access to the most advanced form of breast-cancer screening with the Genius 3D Mammography exam,” she said.
For more information or to schedule a 3D mammography exam, call Northern Hospital at 336-783-8400 or visit its website at www.northernhospital.com/3D.