Digital mammography offers enhanced technology for breast cancer screening. And it will be available in Aitkin, Garrison and McGregor soon.
Riverwood Healthcare Center is making the transition from film mammography to digital mammography at its hospital in Aitkin and Garrison and McGregor clinics this summer. Digital mammography is filmless and available immediately on a computer monitor for analysis by a radiologist.
“While Riverwood has always offered mammography services, the addition of digital mammography is one more step to help patients access advanced care for breast abnormalities or cancer close to home,” says Mike Delfs, Riverwood chief operating officer. “Through our Breast Health Alliance with Cuyuna Regional Medical Center, we’ve also made other advanced diagnostic services--breast MRI and stereotactic breast biopsy--available locally in the past year.”
During the installation period, mammography services will be unavailable for about a week at each location and offered at the other two according to the schedule here.
• June 20-29: Installation at in Aitkin; mammography available at Garrison and McGregor clinics.
• July 11-20: Installation in McGregor; mammography available in Aitkin or Garrison.
• July 18-27: Installation in Garrison: mammography available in Aitkin or McGregor.
“Our mammography staff is very excited to begin offering our patients this advanced technology with enhanced image capabilities for breast cancer screening,” says Julie Siemers, Radiology manager.
How digital mammography works
Film mammography uses x-ray to record images on film using an x-ray cassette. Films are then developed and produced and read by a radiologist. With digital mammography, the x-rays produce a digital image on a computer screen while the patient is still in position. The technologist then has the ability to review these immediately to determine image quality.
With a digital mammogram, the breast image can be read and stored electronically in digital format, and may also converted from a digital image to film for reading and storage. In either case, the images can be compared from exam to exam and from digital to film.
Mammogram screening saves lives
“Mammograms are so vital in the early detection of breast cancer because they can identify tumors while they are still very small, long before they can be felt or spread,” explains Amy Renner, RN, breast health care coordinator for Riverwood who offers one-on-one support to breast cancer patients. “If you’re a woman 40 years or older, be sure to get your clinical breast exam and mammogram annually—or at an earlier age if you have other risk factors.”
If you don’t have any symptoms for breast cancer, mammography could save your life or the life of someone you know. According to Susan G. Komen for the Cure®, approximately one in every eight women develops breast cancer during the course of her lifetime. It’s estimated that one-third of all breast cancer deaths in the U.S. each year could be prevented by early detection. Nine out of 10 women can survive breast cancer if the disease is detected at its earliest stages. Breast cancer ranks second as the cause of cancer deaths in American women and claims more than 40,000 lives each year.
For those who don't have health insurance or have a high deductible plan that doesn't cover mammograms, the Sage program, funded by the Minnesota Department of Health, offers free breast and cervical cancer screening. For more information on income eligibility and enrolling in this program, contact Cathy Richardson at Riverwood at (218) 927-8272, ext. 3652.
For an appointment for a breast exam and mammogram at any Riverwood clinic, call (888) 270-1882.