From an interview with
Dr. W. Shawn Conwell
Medical Director, McLeod Breast Health Center
A regular screening mammogram can save lives. McLeod Radiologist Dr. W. Shawn Conwell says there is an appropriate time to start regular mammograms.
Here’s a summary of Dr. Conwell’s comments:
We see varying recommendations from different medical societies. My professional organization, the American College of Radiology, recommends that women are screened every year, beginning at age 40. The US Preventive Service Taskforce guidelines are a little more lenient. They recommend screening every other year after age 50.
The American College of Radiology calculations suggest if we followed the Taskforce guidelines, an additional 40,000 to 50,000 women will die from breast cancer each year in this country. Obviously, the most benefit from screening comes from yearly participation, beginning at age 40.
Simply put, a screening mammogram is when the patient has no complaint or concern. A diagnostic mammogram is when a woman has a complaint or concern, such as a palpable mass, pain, nipple discharge or something of that nature. The distinction between screening and diagnostic has nothing to do with the technology itself. It’s the time and additional expertise we use to examine the potential problem.
Throughout the McLeod Health organization, we have 3D mammograms. The difference between 3D and 2D mammography is that the 3D takes the picture of the breast from multiple angles. We can look at it one slice at a time. A 2D mammogram is just one picture.
From the patient’s perspective, there isn’t much difference between 2D and 3D. The compression and positioning of the breast is the same. It takes a little bit longer to acquire a 3D image, maybe half a second longer. During 3D, the patient will notice that the imaging tower is moving as the multiple images are captured. Otherwise, there’s virtually no difference to the patient.
In this region, at the multiple McLeod Hospitals, we’ve seen a breast cancer detection rate that approaches almost 10 per 1,000. This is quite a high cancer detection rate and we attribute much of that to the implementation of 3D mammography. With 2D, we would have expected something less, in the range of 3 to 6 per 1,000. So, we are finding more breast cancer early with the difference mostly due to 3D mammography. The ability to clearly identify problems with 3D mammography has enabled us to reduce the number of women we ask to return for a second screening. The average recall rate from McLeod is only about 6 percent.
To schedule a mammogram,call McLeod Reservations and Scheduling at (843) 777-2095 and choose option 1.
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