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 County in Virginia — 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,” says 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 40-50 percent of women who have dense breasts. Indeed, Northern Hospital’s newly-acquired Genius 3D Mammography exam is currently 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,” Leonard said.
Early detection and 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, or once every two years, for women between the ages of 55 and 79. Younger women are also 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,” explains 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,” says 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,” says 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 explained. “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.
Tammy 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 adds.
For more information or to schedule a 3D mammography exam, call 336-783-8400 or visit our website at www.northernhospital.com/3D.