Detecting Cancer Earlier with Digital Mammography
Experts agree that the best way to fight breast cancer is with an annual mammogram. Sheila Krohne of Sister Lakes has become a cheerleader for making sure that women understand the importance of getting an annual mammogram.
It was during Krohne’s mammogram last year that radiologists at Lakeland Community Hospital, Niles, identified a lump in her breast. “The lump in my breast was less than 1 millimeter in diameter—it was so small,” says Krohne. “The mammogram identified the cancer in the earliest of stages, years before I would have felt it—it saved my life.”
Krohne’s mammogram was done on completely digital technology at Lakeland in Niles. Instead of using film to capture and record the image, a digital mammogram
uses a special detector to capture and convert X-ray energy into digital data. There’s no waiting for film to develop, and the mammogram can be reviewed
immediately on a computer monitor by a certified radiologist.
Digital vs. Film
Digital mammography can help radiologists detect even the smallest of abnormalities. In Krohne’s case, it was a lump that was about the size of
a pinhead. Digital mammography also offers these benefits:
- Special software technology called computer-aided detection (CAD). It helps radiologists identify areas of the mammogram that contain features associated
with cancer, requiring the patient’s return for an additional review.
- High-resolution digital images that can be refined during viewing. Brightness,
contrast and clarity can all be manipulated by the radiologist to enhance the image as needed.
- Digital mammograms stored on a computer. They can be transmitted electronically to physicians’ offices.
“I have nine sisters whom I am always reminding to get their mammograms,” comments Krohne. “Be proactive about your health. It takes less than 20 minutes, and it could save your life.”
Currently only about 8 percent of breast imaging units in the country provide digital
mammography. Lakeland HealthCare was the first healthcare system in Michiana to
offer the technology both at the Center for Outpatient Services in St. Joseph and at
Lakeland Community Hospital, Niles.
If you're age 40 or older, ask your doctor about scheduling your annual mammogram. Or call Lakeland HealthCare Radiology at 269-556-210 for appointments in St. Joseph or Niles.