October is breast cancer awareness month, and our “WHY” at EWBC (Elizabeth Wende Breast Care) is stronger than ever. We do what we do every day because:
- 1 in 8 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in her lifetime
- Breast cancer is curable when detected early
- Breast cancer is the most common cancer in American women
- Most women diagnosed with breast cancer have no family history of the disease
Breast cancer detection has come a long way since the 1970s, and the Rochester area has played a considerable role in advancing the technology to find breast cancer earlier. Tech giants such as Kodak and Xerox worked with the medical community to create equipment and film used to image the breast and detect breast cancer. But film mammography had its limitations. The major limitation was that image quality was not assessed until after the film was developed, which caused longer wait times, repeated exams, and anxiety for patients.
In the late 1990s and into the 2000s, researchers began looking into ways to improve mammography imaging and use digital technology. Digital mammography allows image quality to be assessed at the point of care, and images could be enhanced and magnified to aid in radiologist image review. This new advancement in breast imaging allowed radiologists to read mammogram images from dedicated computer workstations. In 2008, EWBC became a fully digital mammography facility.
In 2009, EWBC began a research project with a new technology called digital breast tomosynthesis (DBT, also called 3D). This form of digital mammography was an exciting advancement in breast imaging. The basic concept is that DBT images the breast in an arc-like pattern, taking a series of 1mm (about 0.04in) slice images. These small slices provide a more detailed image of your breast than a standard mammogram, allowing radiologists better to evaluate your breast- especially denser breast tissue patterns. It detects more cancers and reduces the number of callbacks for patients. In 2011, the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) (Food and Drug Administration) approved DBT, and EWBC installed the equipment. EWBC is fully DBT.
DBT is a remarkable advancement in the detection of breast cancer. As technology advances, our ability to find small cancers earlier improves. Unfortunately, mammography is still not a perfect test and does not detect all abnormalities. This is especially true for patients with dense breast tissue. In 2013, the NYS (New York State) Breast Density Law went into effect. This law requires radiologists to tell patients if they have dense tissue and offer supplemental screening such as ultrasound. EWBC now offers screening breast ultrasounds for patients with dense breast tissue at all seven of our locations.
As we enter our 48th year of caring for Rochester and surrounding communities, we continue researching and investing in technologies and equipment to improve breast cancer detection. Along with technological advancements, we maintain a patient-centered practice.
We still offer same-day results for all screening appointments, two expert radiologist physicians reading every screening mammogram, and a fully integrated cancer risk and genetics program. The combination of these things allows us to personalize care and continually work to improve our community’s health. In addition, one of our physicians will examine every patient with a diagnostic concern.
This October, we celebrate our progress and continue the work that still needs to be accomplished. Until then, remind a friend or loved one to have their annual mammogram. Annual screening beginning at age 40 saves the most lives.