The word "cancer" has a way of stopping patients in their tracks.
Early detection is key to beating breast cancer, catching it when it is treatable.
Navy Medicine is leading the way when it comes to early detection of breast cancer with the use of a sophisticated combination of 3D mammography and 3D biopsy system.
According to Naval Medical Center Camp Lejeune's Chief of Radiology, CDR Matthew Rose, the 3D biopsy system, "is the first of its kind in the Navy."
The new biopsy system is in use at NMCCL and provides the capability to biopsy lesions not seen on ultrasound or 2D imaging.
Lead mammography technologist Christine Davidson explained the biopsy system allows tissue sampling in a more patient-sensitive manner by utilizing a memory-foam table top.
"Having a 3D biopsy system allows us the capability to perform biopsies of lesions that were only seen on 3D in the least invasive way possible," said Davidson. "Without this capability, a patient may have to go through a more invasive procedure to determine the pathology of the lesion."
Utilization of both 2D and 3D imaging are crucial to "early detection of breast cancer, when it is treatable," said Rose.
The use of these technologies is more than just beneficial in detecting cancer early.
"It (3D imaging) has the potential to reduce emotional harm by having few call backs for addition imaging," said Rose. "Patients get very worried that the test is positive if we call them back for more images. The systems takes multiple images of the breast and formats them to be viewed as a stack of images."
Naval Medical Center Camp Lejeune mammography technologists pose in one of the mammography imaging rooms at the medical center.
Both mammography units passed multiple American College of Radiology and Food and Drug Administration accreditations in September 2018 just in time for Breast Cancer Awareness month.
"The most important part of Breast cancer awareness month truly is the awareness part," said NMCCL Executive Officer Capt. Shelley Perkins. "Every woman should talk to her doctor about the risk of breast cancer and have a discussion about how best to screen for cancer and the timing of imaging, such as mammograms. Mammograms saves lives with early detection.
The units are certified for the next three years according to ACR.
These accreditations are no surprise due to a major process improvement project the mammography unit underwent three years ago.
A massive process improvement project, which was recognized as one of the most successful in Navy Medicine East, created an effective system that streamlined scheduling for both screening and diagnostic mammography, Rose explained.
Still, many beneficiaries choose to be seen outside of NMCCL for their breast health needs.
Due to the nomadic lifestyle many of our beneficiaries have, maintaining a regular schedule of breast health screenings can be difficult outside of a military treatment facility.
"We maintain excellence and standard of care and the patient's images can be easily sent to any DoD (Department of Defense) facility so their mammograms can follow them with every PCS (permanent change of station) or move to a DoD facility," said Rose. "[Being seen at NMCCL] improves the ability to share prior exams with other DoD facilities, which can make a difference in earlier detection of breast cancer."
In recognition of breast cancer awareness month, patients will have an opportunity to take advantage of the advanced breast imaging services at NMCCL, Oct. 15 through Oct. 19, 2018.
The event will allow patients, who are asymptomatic (have had no previous signs of breast cancer), to come into the mammography clinic and be screened without an appointment.
Walk-ins will be taken 0800 to 1100, and 1300 to 1500 on those days.
"NMCCL has state-of-the-art diagnostic equipment, a dedicated team of imagers who have years of experience and highly trained, board-certified radiologists who can find tiny changes in a mammogram, years before they would ever be felt on an exam," said Perkins. "If you do have a breast concern or have a change in your exam, talk with your primary care provider. Women save their own lives every day by speaking up!"
This article originally appeared on the United States Navy. Follow @USNavy on Twitter.
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