This year more than 180,000 women in the US will be diagnosed with breast cancer and up to 20 percent of these cases could have been detected earlier. New equipment will help one area hospital do just that. It's described by some as a technological leap in early detection of breast cancer.
Early detection is vital to surviving breast cancer. Now, the FDA has approved a new computer system that will give radiologists the benefit of a second pair of eyes when reading mammograms. It's called ImageChecker-- a computer system that helps radiologists at Candler Hospital review mammograms by calling attention to anything suspicious.
"The computer is taught certain things to look for that are very early signs of breast cancer," says Dr. Dean Moesch, Radiologist and Director of Candler Hospital's Telfair Women's Center. So early that they could possibly be overlooked by the human eye. The mammogram screening process is the same for the patient-- then each film is assigned a bar code to identify the patient-- then the X-rays are fed into this computer that uses a laser beam to convert the image into a digital signal-- which is then sent on to a video monitor. At that time any suspicious areas are marked by the computer. Then a radiologist reviews the mammogram-- first in the usual way and then as a back up-- they check the areas marked by the computer and compare that to their findings.
"It doesn't replace radiologists but it helps us tremendously-- it gives us a second pair of eyes that don't have a human bias-- it scans mammography and helps detect very subtle abnormalities," says Dr. Moesch. New technology to give doctors an extra edge and patients extra assurance.
Experts stress the need for women forty and over to get regular mammograms and for women with a family history-- they should start much earlier. If you don't have insurance to cover mammograms-- the Chatham County Health Department has a program that can help.
For more information on the Chatham County Health Department programs, log on to www.easthealthdistrict.com.
For more information on the ImageChecker, log on to http://www.sjchs.org/body.cfm?id=465.