Patients in several rural Sanford Health communities now have increased access to the gold standard in breast cancer detection: 3D mammograms. The technology provides a clearer picture, helping to detect breast cancer at its earliest and most treatable stage.
Sanford Health recently installed in-house 3D mammography technology in Brookings, Chamberlain, Canby, Luverne and Vermillion.
These Sanford Health locations now offer a more convenient path to the most effective screening tool available in detecting breast cancer.
Shorter path to cancer screenings
“In addition to the technology that detects cancer earlier, it’s going to be much more convenient,” said Lori Sisk, senior director of the Sanford Canby. “In the past we’ve had a mobile screening unit come through once a month. But what if you had to be at work or you were out of town the day the truck was here? Then you had to wait until next month or go elsewhere.”
Sanford Health recommends annual mammograms starting at age 40. The 3D version is a safe and low-dose X-ray that creates multiple images of the breast at different angles. It provides a clear picture for radiologists and gives doctors a detailed view of overall breast health. The screening itself is no more time-consuming than the two-dimensional versions.
In many cases those living in rural areas in central and southeastern South Dakota and western Minnesota who want 3D mammograms had to travel an hour or more to get screened. With 3D mammography available in more Sanford locations, patients can get screened closer to home.
As an example, the Sanford Chamberlain Medical Center serves Brule, Lyman and Buffalo counties in central South Dakota. In the past, patients in that region might have had to drive 70 miles or more for a 3D mammogram.
“Anytime you improve access to care, you make it easier for someone to come and get a service,” said Erica Peterson, senior director of Sanford Chamberlain. “It allows them to potentially improve their health outcome. Anytime we can make things simpler and more accessible for people, the more likely they are to utilize the service and take those preventive measures seriously.”
‘A better look at everything’
The connection to digital technology for mammograms allows for storing and transferring images electronically and gives radiologists the opportunity to use software to help read or interpret screenings. Most importantly, it can be a much better way for women with denser breast tissue to get accurate screening information.
“The 3D mammograms give us a better look at everything,” said Teri Biggins, supervisor, diagnostic radiology at the Sanford Chamberlain Medical Center. “Dense breast tissue can hide cancer or mimic cancer so this gives us an additional view. In the past we were having to send patients to Sioux Falls to get that care.”
The technology was made possible with funds from the Sanford Health Foundation as well as local hospital foundations in Chamberlain and Vermillion. It’s one more example of the commitment Sanford Health has placed on access to top-flight care in rural communities.
Shortly after Sanford Health announced it would be providing access to 3D mammography in Canby, the schedule for screenings began to fill up. It was evidence of the need and also the importance of making it available.
“Sanford is prioritizing getting advanced technology out to our rural communities,” Sisk said. “We’re excited about giving our patients the opportunity to stay in the community for these kinds of screenings.”
If you’re 40 years old or older and due for a breast cancer screening, you can schedule a mammogram through My Sanford Chart or by calling your clinic.
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