PANAMA CITY, Fla. — This year almost 270 thousand women will be diagnosed with breast cancer; it’s the most common cancer women face. However, a new technology could help cancer patients become survivors.
3-D mammograms are becoming more frequent in imaging centers and they’re now offered at Gulf Coast Regional Medical Center as well.
“This is basically the Cadillac of breast imaging,” said Joe Perez, the Imaging Services Director at Gulf Coast Regional.
The technology has been shown to find significantly more cancer than traditional images. Perez said it’s especially helpful when screening women with dense breast tissue, who are more prone to developing cancer.
He said dense tissue is also harder to analyze with a traditional 2-D mammogram.
“On a 2-D image, a dense breast will appear cloudy, and if you think about a plane flying through the clouds, it’s difficult to see,” said Perez. “You can hear it, but you can’t see it. What the 3-D imagery does is that removes it slice by slice so that you can actually see the plane within the clouds.”
The machine takes 15 pictures to create a 3-D image, making early detection easier. Doctors agree that early detection of invasive cancer can significantly improve chances of survival.
“Her and her doctor can come up with a treatment plan that’s less invasive, quicker and usually 100 percent complete recovery,” said Kim Brown, Mammography Supervisor at Gulf Coast Regional.
“Early detection starts with periodic or monthly self-breast exams and annual screenings,” said Perez.
Even though it’s far less common for men, that rule of thumb applies to them too.
“Of our patient population, maybe two percent are men,” said Perez. “This equipment here is the best for early detection for both men and women.”
He said most insurance companies will cover 3-D mammograms, especially for women with dense breast tissue. For those who aren’t covered, he said the price for a 3-D screening is far less than the price of cancer treatment.
“The option of paying for it, for self-pay patients, [it means] the reduction of having to have a more invasive procedure later on,” he said.