Words by Debbie Burke
Advanced detection and diagnostic technologies for breast health are becoming more readily available, and thank goodness for that. In Monroe County, St. Luke’s University Health Network has recently gone live with their 3D mammograms. According to Dr. Joseph Russo, Section Chief of Women’s Imaging for St. Luke’s University Health Network, “3D mammogram technology has been shown to find 50% more breast cancers than traditional mammography.” It was a priority, he added, for the team to offer this technology to the patients in Monroe County, and St. Luke’s is also installing 3D at the Wind Gap site, which goes live this summer. In total, 3D technology is available at five of their 13 women’s imaging sites, which will increase to eight sites by the end of the summer.
Most women are unaware that as far as the potential for breast cancer, having dense breasts is a greater risk factor than having a first degree relative with breast cancer. 3D technology is a particular benefit to those with dense breasts, because it is a more sophisticated tool for the radiolo gist to discern more subtle cancerous areas.
“We are detecting breast cancer at a rate often 20% higher than the national average,” said Dr. Russo. St. Luke’s has fewer callbacks and fewer biopsies because of “the outstanding abilities” of their dedicated breast imaging team of physicians who are only reading breast. According to Michele Giletto, Network Director of Women’s Imaging at St. Luke’s, “Nothing is as important as the physician who is reading the study.”
Leaving behind the “one size fits all” model, personalized medicine is taking over numerous subspecialties and, Dr. Russo acknowledged, breast imaging is no exception. St. Luke’s has developed a personalized screening program that takes into account a woman’s risk of developing breast cancer as well as her breast density before recommending the optimum screening regimen.
“I believe that the foreseeable future won’t be in the development of new technologies but in the development of the appropriate usage of these technologies,” he said. “This should not be a time when women stop getting mammograms as the media would imply, but a time when women begin to take advantage of imaging tools that were not available to their mothers and grandmothers.”
For more information, visit www.sluhn.org.