Mammography returning to HCMC

ORIGINALLY WRITTEN
Mobile mammography will be returning to Hillsboro Community Medical Center beginning July 3.

After an extensive search, HCMC has made arrangements with Susan B. Allen Memorial Hospital Mobile Screening Services from El Dorado.

Mammography services were interrupted at HCMC when Via Christi ended its mobile mammography program.

“We are excited to have mammography service back in Hillsboro,” said Billie Kueser, radiology manager at HCMC. “We know Susan B. Allen Hospital offers a first-rate service.”

Forty-thousand American women die from breast cancer every year, but this number may change thanks to a new technology. The device, called an R2 Image Checker, gives physicians a second method for examining mammograms.

Susan B. Allen Memorial Hospital’s mammography unit has had the only Image Checker in Kansas for almost two years, and it will help radiologist Hilary Zarnow, detect cancerous lesions at earlier, more treatable stages.

“Early detection is critical and the Image Checker greatly improves our odds,” Zarnow said.

Image Checker analyzes a digital image of the regular mammogram to data associated with tumorous cells, using a sophisticated artificial neural network.

“This is artificial intelligence,” Zarnow said, “and it finds potential problem areas that can’t be seen by the naked eye. It functions like a very sophisticated ‘spell check’, if you will, for medical images.”

According to the American Cancer Society, the survival rate for localized breast cancer has risen from 78 percent in the 1940s to 92 percent today.

Mammography and related technologies have played key roles in this improvement by helping doctors detect cancerous lesions long before a lump can be felt.

Because of the complexity of the breast tissue, however, mammography misses 10 to 20 percent of cancers.

“After converting mammograms to digital images,” Zarnow said, “Image Checker analyzes them for extremely subtle signs and points out potential problems.

“I do what I always did,” Zarnow added, “but now I can also see whether the Image Checker agrees with me or points out new areas-and it’s finding some things that might have slipped by me. As a result, we’re picking up subtler changes earlier. It gives me a second, independent analysis. We owe this to our patients.”

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