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CCMH will offer digital mammography


Crawford County Memorial Hospital has announced plans to install a new state-of-the-art digital mammography system. The system is expected to be available for patient use by mid-July.

“After more than a year and a half of research and planning, we are so excited to be making digital mammography a reality for our patients,” said Kari Boyens, Radiology Manager at Crawford County Memorial Hospital. “We’re proud to be able to provide area women with the most advanced screening tool available to identify cancers early when they are most treatable.”

When comparing the new digital system to the conventional system currently in place at CCMH, Boyens notes there are not many differences that can be seen with the naked eye. The digital mammography system will have essentially the same physical look, it will still use x-ray radiation to produce the image of the breast, and compression plates are still necessary to isolate the tissue.

“The biggest difference is that we will have access to almost instantaneous images on our computer screen during the procedure, rather than having to wait for the film to be processed,” said Boyens. “Once it’s on the computer, we can enhance the image or magnify it for further evaluation. This new capability will help reduce the patient’s waiting time because we will know right away if we’ve achieved the image we were targeting.”

Additionally, Boyens noted that the new digital system will have a tungsten x-ray tube. This material has been proven to reduce the amount of radiation needed to get diagnostic images.

“Patient safety is very important to us,” said Boyens. “Reducing radiation dose is something we are always striving to do. Not all mammo systems use a tungsten tube. This was a key factor in how CCMH decided which mammography system to purchase.”

Use of digital mammography systems was approved by the FDA (Food and Drug Administration in January 2000. Several years later, results from a comprehensive clinical trial suggested there was virtually no difference between digital and film mammograms in detecting breast cancer among the general population of women in the trial. However, the study indicated that women with dense breasts, women who were pre- or perimenopausal, or women who were younger than age 50 could benefit from having a digital rather than film mammogram.

“The electronic manipulation of the digital image allows the subtle differences between normal and abnormal tissue to be more easily noted in those special populations,” said Boyens.

According to the American Cancer Society, breast cancer is the second most common cancer among women in the United States (skin cancer is first). It is also the second leading cause of cancer death in women, after lung cancer. Furthermore, the ACS states that the chance of a woman having invasive breast cancer some time during her life is about 1 in 8.

The best defense against breast cancer is to combine self breast examination, mammography and a yearly breast exam by your physician. A physician’s order is not necessary before scheduling a mammogram at Crawford County Memorial Hospital; however, it is important to wait until you are due for your annual screening. The only exception to getting one less than 12 months apart is if you are experiencing problems.