Big strides in breast cancer detection

POSTED: 5:08 PM Jan 04 2013   UPDATED: 5:16 PM Jan 04 2013
0104_3DMammography
Craven County -

A new machine at the Coastal Carolina Health Care (C.C.H.C.), and it is finding cancer faster and better than 2D technology.

The new machine has been at C.C.H.C. for almost a month now and doctors say it is drastically better. 

"This allows us to not only do a screening, but also a diagnosis." said Dr. Timothy Sloan, a Radiologist at C.C.H.C.

In a matter of seconds the new 3D machine can perform enough scans to compile anywhere from 50 to 70 images, depending on breast density.

 A good analogy for how 3D mammography differs from conventional mammography is by thinking of grape.

"Instead of smashing a grape and seeing the whole grape in one dimension, it allows you to look through the whole grape so you can actually see where the seed is in relation to the front and the back of the grape." said Dr. Sloan.

Lisa Willis gets a mammogram each year, since breast cancer runs in her family. Not too long ago, doctors found a suspicious result on her mammogram, and she was called back in. 

"You can conjure up all sorts of thoughts, you know, are you going to be here in the next couple of years? Are you going to have to do chemo therapy radiation? In my case everything turned out fine, so that was a huge relief."

The new 3D mammography machine gives radiologists the confidence to reduce recall rates. In fact, according to F.A.A testing, the recall rate through 3D mammography could be reduced by up to 40%.

The way a 3D test is performed is very similar to a 2D test, and only takes a matter of minutes.

The new exam is not yet covered under insurance, but for most women the fee is minimal.

"$50 is what I had to pay extra. It was nothing. I look at that as dinner out one night with the family."

Staff says patients who have gotten the test in the month the machine has been active praise the service, and say it is well worth the cost.