By Lori Roach

October is breast cancer awareness month and Skyline Hospital is determined to offer women the support, resources and technology to fight this all too common disease.

One in eight women living in the U.S. will be diagnosed with breast cancer in her lifetime and three out of four of those diagnosed with breast cancer have no known risk factors. Twenty-five percent of women who die from breast cancer are diagnosed in their forties, but if cancer is detected before it has spread, the chance for a cure is nearly 100%.

“We like to use this time of year and breast cancer awareness month to focus on breast cancer prevention and to shine a light on how important being healthy is,” said Erica Didier, M.D. “We like to focus on true prevention, not just early detection.” Healthy lifestyle choices are the first step in the quest to avoid a breast cancer diagnosis.

“Breast health, like all health, doesn’t begin in the hospital or clinic. Preventing breast cancer is not totally under our control, but we can care for ourselves by making decisions each day to strengthen our relationships with others and ourselves – making time to move our bodies and to fuel them with whole, nutritious foods,” said Didier.

According to the Mayo Clinic there are steps to take that will reduce the risk of getting, not only breast cancer, but other cancers as well. Those steps include limiting alcohol, not smoking, controlling your weight, being physically active, breast-feeding, limiting dose and duration of hormone therapy and avoiding exposure to radiation and environmental pollution.
“I use a shared decision-making process with my patients. I talk to them about what the risks are and let them choose their course of action. Patients like being empowered to make decisions on their own,” said Jenna Newcomb, PA-C. “I can help them reach their goals, while helping them to reduce their risk for cancer. They are not alone on their journey; we are here to help them.”

A large part of healthy decision making is scheduling yourself routine mammograms. The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the American College of Radiology Society of Breasts Imaging, the American Medical Association, the National Comprehensive Cancer Network, the American Cancer Society and the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force suggest women should have their first mammogram by age 40, and then, depending on the organization, have a routine mammogram every year or every two years.

Skyline Hospital offers Genius™ 3D Mammography exams, developed by Hologic, Inc., a worldwide leader in Women’s Health. Utilizing advanced breast tomosynthesis technology, Genius™ exams are clinically proven to significantly increase the detection of breast cancers, also decreasing the number of women asked to return for additional testing.

In conventional 2D mammography, overlapping tissue is a leading reason why small breast cancers may be missed and normal tissue may appear abnormal, leading to unnecessary callbacks. These exams include a three-dimensional method of imaging that can greatly reduce the tissue overlap effect. “3D mammography provides more detailed images of the breast tissue, viewed in thin ‘slices’ instead of a single picture of superimposed tissue. This means radiologists can find cancers earlier, when they are more treatable,” said Kari Thomas, M.D., Skyline Hospital radiologist. “This technology also reduces the number of callbacks from screening mammograms, as it helps radiologists to discern overlapping normal tissue from masses.”

This new exam technology is revolutionizing how breast cancer is detected by providing a better option for women of all breast densities compared to 2D alone. Researchers have found that:
• 3D mammography finds 20-65 percent more invasive breast cancers compared to 2D alone, an average increase of 41 percent.
• Only the Genius™ 3D Mammography exam is FDA approved as superior for women with dense breasts compared to 2D alone.
• 3D Mammography reduces callbacks by up to 40 percent compared to 2D alone.

“Because of the generosity of Skyline Foundation and our giving community, the Imaging Department at Skyline Hospital is able to replace our digital mammography system with a new state-of-the art 3D tomosynthesis unit,” said Robb Kimmes, Skyline Hospital chief executive officer. “Having the best tools for early detection of breast cancer is going to be very impactful to this community and for this I am incredibly grateful!”

To schedule a 3D mammography exam, or to learn about this important breast health procedure, please contact Skyline Hospital’s Imaging Department at 509-637-2957.