Make Yourself a Priority

Early Detection May Save Your Life

October 2020 – Although 1 in 8 women in the US will develop breast cancer, the good news is the survival rate is very good with early detection. Better imaging technology, including digital breast tomosynthesis (3D mammography exams), allow Radiologists to see even the smallest amount of cancer much earlier than before.

Boundary Community Hospital (BCH) has invested in the Selenia® Dimensions® 3D Mammography system from Hologic, as well as obtaining the American College of Radiology (ACR) Breast Imaging Center of Excellence certification for screening and diagnostic mammography and diagnostic breast ultrasound. BCH Mammography Director Luke Grauke, MD has implemented the necessary protocols so that radiologists from Kootenai Outpatient Imaging can read the results of the scans remotely transmitting their findings to local primary care providers for fast results. Additionally, Bryan Berkey, MD has replaced long-time BCH Radiology Director, Michael Melendez, MD overseeing the Diagnostic Imaging Department.

According to Susan Layeux, MD, Boundary Community Clinics Medical Director, “Breast cancer screening is recommended for all women from ages 50-75 using a 3-D Mammogram. The various societies have disagreement with how often to screen between the ages of 40-50, and the interval of screening (every 1 or 2 years). Much depends on family history.

It is estimated that over 3,000 women fall into this recommended screening age range, yet Boundary County still lags behind the rest of the state in the number of annual breast cancer screenings.

As a Radiologic Technologist who specializes in Mammography, Amber Allen, RT(R)(M) often hears from women coming in for their first mammograms that they are terrified of the machine. “There are so many jokes about the process of getting a mammogram and none of them paint a flattering or realistic picture,” says Ms. Allen. “However, a lot of women take these jokes to be fact and put off having their mammogram out of fear of the compression. In reality, the exam is typically far quicker and causes far less discomfort than women expect. When they leave they always tell me that it wasn’t so bad.

Ms. Allen continues, “My job is to work with each and every individual to get the best quality image possible, but also to create as comfortable of an atmosphere as it can be, while listening to each patient to help alleviate their fears. Those factors combined with the fact that Boundary Community Hospital has the latest 3D Mammography machine help to give individualized, quality care right in our own community.

In some situations, the radiologist may request additional x-rays or a diagnostic breast ultrasound. 3D mammography exams are still the gold standard for imaging of the breast; however, breast ultrasound can usually focus on a targeted area seen on the Mammogram. BCH follows ACR standards when performing breast ultrasound and the Sonographer is breast-certified with the American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonography. Patients can schedule follow up testing at BCH for diagnostic mammography and ultrasound rather than going out of county for testing.

Although the cost of new 3D mammogram equipment was expensive, we knew it was an absolute immediate necessity. The BCH Board of Trustees decided to purchase new equipment and find methods to pay after the purchase,” says BCH Trustee Dennis Dinning. “With the support of the Fry Healthcare Foundation and the community we have been able to get a good down payment on the equipment. We know we made a great decision and thank the community for the continued support.

Mammogram appointments are available Monday, Tuesday, and Friday while ultrasound appointments are available on Tuesday and Friday through Outpatient Services at Boundary Community Hospital.

So make yourself a priority and schedule your mammogram. Early detection may save your life.