New technology increases ability to diagnose breast cancer at an earlier stage
From Spotlight on Health Sept./Oct. 2008
One in eight women will be diagnosed
with breast cancer at some point in her
Breast cancer often has no symptoms in
its earliest and most treatable stages, but
can be detected in a mammogram as early
as two years before it is felt in the breast.
Mammography remains the standard
screening tool for breast cancer detection,
and new and improved imaging
techniques will benefit women, improving
early detection and diagnosis.
Recently, the St. Cloud Hospital Breast
Center transitioned from standard
mammography to digital mammography.
This new technology allows radiologists to
view mammograms in a 3-D image on a
computer screen, adjust the picture’s
lightness or darkness and zoom in on
certain areas of the breast.
also can review the picture within seconds
of taking the X-ray, decreasing waiting
time for patients.
“This new technology increases our ability
to diagnose breast cancer at an earlier
stage, especially in young women and
women with dense breasts,” said Jody
Bolton-Smith, M.D., lead radiologist at
the Breast Center.
Results from a study of more than
42,000 women by the American
College of Radiology showed that
digital mammography found cancers that
traditional mammography missed in
“Compression is still an essential part of
the mammogram, but how the image is
processed is very different,” said Nancy May,
coordinator of operations at the Breast Center.
The difference in this new technology occurs
after the mammography is complete -- when
the image is stored directly into a computer.
Specific areas can be enlarged or enhanced for
closer evaluation with the click of a mouse.
A single breast image also may allow for
examination of various densities in regions of
the breast where standard mammography
requires additional images at different settings.
“Mammography continues to be the most
important diagnostic tool for early detection
of breast cancer,” May said. “Annual
mammograms for women older than 40 can be
lifesaving and can significantly decrease the
death rate from breast cancer in a majority
Encourage the women in your life to make this
crucial annual commitment. After all, early
detection is everything.
For more information about digital
mammography or to schedule an appointment,
call (320) 229-4919.
Learn more about the Breast Center.