New Technology Improves the Reliability and Comfort of Mammograms

Mammograms at McLaren Caro Region are about to get both more comfortable and more accurate.

Until now, the McLaren Caro Region Imaging Department offered high-quality 2D digital mammograms for routine screening and diagnostic studies. This June, the health care system upgraded its technology in order to offer 3D mammograms. The new Hologic Selenia Dimensions 3D Performance System provides the best-quality images available today. This new technology will help physicians spot abnormalities at their earliest and most treatable stage.

With the help of funding from the McLaren Caro Region Foundation, the hospital installed the new system. It is available for patients now, said Theresa Atkinson, Director of Ancillary Services at McLaren Caro Region. “The new equipment has been designed to improve patient comfort during the exam while allowing for more compression of the breast tissue, thus making the images sharper and showing better detail. Sharper detail is big news for patients. At McLaren, our goal is to give our patients the best experience and the best quality images we can produce,” Atkinson said.

The additional details visible in the 3D images are proven to help doctors detect up to 65% more breast cancers than 2D images alone, which is an average increase in the detection of 41%. The system produces images that represent thin slices of the breast, allowing radiologists to view slices one millimeter at a time with clarity never before possible. Now, when combined with conventional 2D the improved images also mean fewer women have to come back in for follow-up mammograms, which significantly reduces exposure to radiation, Atkinson said. Hologic is the only 3D mammography system that is clinically backed to provide this type of quality; no other vendor can make this claim.

The American Cancer Society cites studies backing up Atkinson’s assertions. Even the JAMA Oncology published a study in February 2019 showing that breast cancers found with 3D mammography were more likely to be smaller and not have spread to the lymph nodes.

The Hologic system provides the images faster too. The scan time takes less than 4 seconds, making the process more tolerable. Hologic has designed the machine with a SmartCurve system that is more comfortable for 93% of women having the test done.

Finally, the machine produces high-quality images of even the densest breast tissue. Other systems provide lesser-quality images as breast tissue density rises which can potentially hide tumors within its fibro-glandular structures. No matter the thickness or density of a patient’s breast tissue, the system is able to maintain high image quality where other vendors lose image quality over 8 cm breast thickness. All that adds up to a more comfortable exam and more accurate results while exposing women to less radiation due to less need for the center to call patients back for additional images. “It’s just an overall better experience and a better screening tool,” Atkinson said.

Choosing McLaren Caro Region for your mammogram offers other benefits too. “At a smaller place, we can get you in faster for appointments and turn around results quicker,” Atkinson said. “We have some amazing mammography techs who truly care for every one of their patients.”

Recommendations differ on who should get mammograms so talk to your physician about whether you need one. Most experts recommend women begin annual mammograms between ages 40 and 50, depending on family history and other factors.

If you have more questions about mammograms or the new equipment, call McLaren Caro Region Imaging Services at (989) 672-5111. “We are in constant contact with physicians and we will do whatever we possibly can to help,” Atkinson said.