Check screen­ing op­tions urges pa­tient


An Auck­land can­cer pa­tient’s only mo­tive is to help other women.

This from an eastern bays wo­man in her 60’s who has had breast can­cer de­tected re­cently on the to­mosyn­the­sis mam­mo­gram. Ac­cord­ing to the pa­tient, who wishes to re­main anony­mous, the stan­dard mam­mo­gram she had did not de­tect her breast ab­nor­mal­i­ties.

She says that fol­low­ing her stan­dard mam­mo­gram she was lucky to be of­fered to­mosyn­the­sis as a breast screen­ing op­tion. ’’I hadn’t re­ally thought about can­cer, but it turns out I had two tu­mours and the can­cer had spread to the lymph nodes,’’ she says. The pa­tient says there is no breast can­cer his­tory in her fam­ily. Ac­cord­ing to the New Zealand Breast Can­cer Foun­da­tion, 90 - 95 per cent of those di­ag­nosed won’t have ei­ther. The pa­tient says she was also lucky be­cause she is in the small per­cent­age of women who ex­pe­ri­enced breast pain. Its on­set is ini­tially what mo­ti­vated her to see a doc­tor and sub­se­quently led her to have breast screen­ing. She en­cour­ages women to have a mam­mo­gram whether they are in pain or not. ‘‘I urge women to find out if to­mosyn­the­sis mam­mog­ra­phy is an op­tion avail­able to them for breast screen­ing,’’ she says.

Dig­i­tal to­mosyn­the­sis (tomo) is the lat­est in breast imag­ing tech­nol­ogy. Ac­cord­ing to As­cot Ra­di­ol­ogy ra­di­ol­o­gist Dr An­thony Doyle, tomo is proven to have a higher can­cer de­tec­tion rate and a re­duced re­call rate without any added risk or ra­di­a­tion to pa­tients. Screen­ing with tomo has been shown in peer re­viewed in­de­pen­dent stud­ies to re­duce the chance of dy­ing of breast can­cer by one-third.

Tra­di­tional dig­i­tal mam­mog­ra­phy pro­duces two im­ages of each breast. In some cases, this re­sults in over­lap­ping tis­sue which can make it more dif­fi­cult to de­tect can­cers. The tomo cre­ates highly de­tailed, mul­ti­layer im­ages. Po­si­tion­ing is sim­i­lar to that of a mam­mo­gram. The re­sult­ing im­ages pro­vide the best pos­si­ble view of all of the breast tis­sue, with greater can­cer de­tec­tion across all ages and breast den­si­ties.

Ac­cord­ing to the New Zealand Breast Can­cer Foun­da­tion eight women are di­ag­nosed with breast can­cer a day in New Zealand.


Dr An­thony Doyle says to­mosyn­the­sis mam­mog­ra­phy is proven to have a higher can­cer de­tec­tion rate.

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