What is a Mammogram?

How State-of-the-Art Detection Saves Lives: Part 1

By Christine Mack, Development Officer

Once in a while, an opportunity arises that is truly magnificent.

Once in a while, we have the opportunity to be a part of something truly transformational. We often yearn to make a difference, to make an impact in a big way. In 2016, donors to the previous seven years of Fashion Week, Sandusky Style did just that… and this impact is truly life-saving!

At the beginning of 2016, Firelands Regional Medical Center began operating 3D mammography at the Firelands Center for Breast Care. This cutting-edge technology is the first of its kind between Toledo and Cleveland, offering state-of-the-art imaging to patients without the travel time. The acquisition of these two machines was made possible through generous donations to Fashion Week, Sandusky Style from 2009 to 2015, allowing The Foundation for Firelands to contribute $250,000 toward the purchase of this equipment.

What is a mammogram?

For those asking the question what is a mammogram, here's what you should know: This device operates much like a CT scan in that it provides numerous image “slices” that better detect suspicious lesions and tissue, according to surgeon Fredric Itzkowitz, DO.

“The image quality in 3D mammography is so much better than in 2D mammography,” Dr. Itzkowitz says. “Since we started using this machine, we’ve detected cancer earlier and have done more biopsies with greater certainty that we would find cancer. This reduces the time it takes a patient to go from screening to diagnosis.”

The number of false positive biopsies has dropped from 4.55 percent in 2015 using 2D mammography to just 1.43 percent in the first six months of operating 3D mammography. Furthermore, the number of biopsies testing positive for cancer has risen from 25 percent to 41 percent, meaning that physicians are more certain of the need for biopsy because of the clarity of 3D images, according to Lori Kuns, Assistant Director of Imaging Services at Firelands Regional Medical Center. In total, the Center for Breast Care has referred 240 cases for surgical biopsy, finding 108 cases of cancer in 2016, compared to just 73 cancer findings in 2015.

“Before 3D mammography, we often biopsied if a spot looked suspicious,” Dr. Itzkowitz says. “Now the imaging is so much better that we can be less invasive. We can also detect smaller lesions and take them out before they become cancerous. This technology is helping us to save people’s lives.”

To date, more than 85 percent of patients at the Center for Breast Care have opted to use 3D mammography for their annual screening. In addition, renovations have been made to the Firelands Women’s Center to provide patients with a comfortable, soothing environment that better accommodates the 3D technology and comprehensive care provided by the center. Thank you for saving thousands of lives through your generosity.

Learn more about the mammography services at the Firelands Center for Breast Care today.