Breast Tech: 3D Mammography at Columbia Memorial Health | Sponsored | Health | Hudson Valley | Chronogram Magazine

According to the National Cancer Institute, approximately 12.8 percent of women will be diagnosed with breast cancer at some point in their lives. Early detection through accurate diagnostics is a critical facet in improving survival rates for breast cancer patients. Leveraging state-of-the-art technology for their community-based network, Columbia Memorial Health (CMH) is working hard to provide early and accurate cancer detection and treatment options for their patients.

In March, the hospital rolled out state-of-the-art 3D mammography, a cutting-edge imaging technology that generates a three-dimensional picture of the breast, affording healthcare providers a more accurate view of tissue, compared to the conventional two-dimensional mammograms, which result in a higher incidence of false positives. While a traditional 2D mammogram offers just two pictures of a breast (one from the top and another from the side), the new technology captures between 40 and 80 tiny one-millimeter images.

  • Photo Courtesy of Columbia Memorial Health

For Christine Cooley, M.D., a radiologist who has been practicing since 2007, this technology offers several advantages for her patients. The first, and most important benefit, is better and earlier cancer detection—especially for women with dense breast tissue.

"If the patient has really dense breast tissue, there are things that can be hiding," says Dr. Cooley, who graduated from Dartmouth Medical School and completed fellowships at Massachusetts General Hospital, the Dana Farber Cancer Institute, and the Lahey Hospital and Medical Center. "With this new technology, I can find a little cancer inside that breast. With the older technology, I probably wouldn't have seen that cancer for another year or two until it got bigger."

Having a better view of breast tissue from the outset means radiologists like Dr. Cooley have significantly more information to work with and will be less likely to request that a patient to come back for a second test.

"Being called back for another mammogram can be very anxiety-provoking," Dr. Cooley says. "With this new technology, we can recognize when an image is simply showing, for instance, a little bit of overlapping tissue, so I don't need to call [patients] back in."

Columbia Memorial physicians are pairing the improved imaging technology with their new 3D biopsy capabilities, which allow physicians to more precisely sample any of the identified abnormalities that may result in extra nerve-wracking visits.

"Pairing our 3D mammography with advanced 3D biopsy capabilities will enable far more precise location and sampling of tissue, minimizing the impact on surrounding tissue and yielding a better outcome for our patients," says Columbia Memorial Health surgeon Rakel Astorga, M.D.

In order to finance the initiative, the health group raised more than $600,000 in funding. At Columbia Memorial Health, investing in this new 3D technology is an essential part of providing the most advanced, high-level care possible to their patients.

"When I was in medical school trying to decide on what specialty was right for me, some people asked 'why radiology? You're just sitting in a dark room, reading images,'" she says. "But for me, I get to work with patients and make a really big difference: I can find a breast cancer, I can do the biopsy, I can make the diagnosis and help them complete the next steps. I get to play a role in helping each patient. I am a small but important piece in a larger puzzle."

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