A guide to lifesaving elements in mammography

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Breast Cancer Awareness Month has arrived and offers us an opportunity to celebrate breast cancer survivors, remember and reflect on those who have lost their life to this disease, and gaze into the future with hope and a commitment to win this fight. Together, united by a common cause, health care providers can help patients face the physical, emotional and socio-economic challenges of the second most common cause of female death in our country.

Across the world, physicians and basic science researchers are exploring new frontiers in the diagnosis and treatment of breast cancer. And while the quest continues, many women still have unanswered questions about what is “best” and what should they be looking for as a health care consumer in this era of 24/7 news and digital information. A primer in the current guidelines and available options may help answer some of these frequently asked and important questions.

Four essential elements should be present when choosing your mammography provider:

• Breast tomosynthesis — Better known as 3-D mammography, this technology has revolutionized screening mammography, especially in women with dense breast and/or fibrocystic disease. Hologic Medical is the No. 1 system in the world and has the vast majority of market share in the U.S., including Duke University, UNC-Chapel Hill, MD Anderson and the Mayo Clinic.

• Same day results — The notion that a women would have a screening mammogram and wait days or weeks for the results is both wrong and unacceptable. Women must demand same day results and accept nothing less.

• Ultrasound and MRI — These two modalities are critical imaging technologies that assist in the diagnostic evaluation of breast cancer. A facility must have these immediately available to assist the providers in making an accurate and timely diagnosis.

• Image guided biopsy — The ability to use image-guided biopsies is the last essential element. Tissue sampling for a diagnosis remains the gold standard before any treatment option may be considered. These minimally invasive techniques must be an integral component to a complete and successful diagnostic program.

Proudly, our Wilson community has these elements and much more exclusively at Wilson Medical Center. For nearly two decades, Carolina Radiology Consultants has partnered with our local hospital to provide these services to the women of Wilson. All of the recommendations above are found in one location at Wilson Medical Center. CRC would like to recognize and thank an amazing team of technologists, nurses and staff that make this program possible. Also with humility and sincere collegial respect, CRC has the privilege to work closely with an incredible team of physicians who are dedicated to the treatment of this disease. These local providers, in collaboration with the Duke Cancer Network, offer our citizens state of the art medicine close to home.

Jeffrey E. Jones, M.D., is a board certified diagnostic and interventional radiologist with Carolina Radiology Consultants.