Digital Mammograms Offered at UPI's Tucson Breast Center

Katie Riley
March 26, 2001

State-of-the-art digital mammograms are available for the first time to Southern Arizona women at The University Physicians' Tucson Breast Center.

Earlier this month, the Tucson Breast Center installed the Senographe 2000D digital mammography system manufactured by GE Medical Systems. The system produces breast images through computerization rather than on X-ray film.

"For women, the main advantage is that it's much quicker," said radiologist Per Granstrom, the center's medical director and associate professor of diagnostic radiology at the University of Arizona College of Medicine.

"For radiologists, it's a much more efficient way to store images. We don't have to physically go through a film archive to compare this year's mammogram with last year's. It's all there on the computer," Dr. Granstrom said.

If a second opinion is needed, the image can be sent electronically to the second doctor's computer - a distinct advantage in this era of telemedicine.

In traditional mammography, breast images are displayed on film, which must be processed and developed to view. In digital mammography, the images are available on a computer screen within 10 seconds.

"We have the flexibility to instantly magnify and manipulate those images to make them as clear as possible. We think this is going to eliminate a lot of call-backs for women whose mammograms weren't clear enough the first time," said Lisa Evans, chief technologist at the Tucson Breast Center.

Evans estimated digital mammography would shorten most women's mammography exam to 10 to 15 minutes, which is about half the time of an exam using traditional film mammography. Dr. Granstrom added that for women with dense breasts, digital mammography uses significantly less radiation. Also, there is much better visibility of the skin with the new technology.

Clinical studies are under way across the nation to determine whether digital mammography actually results in better cancer detection over traditional mammography. Results should be available in about a year.

"We all feel it has a higher diagnostic value, but we don't have the data to prove it yet," Dr. Granstrom said.

Screening mammograms at the Tucson Breast Center, 2028 E. Prince Road, cost $125. Mammogram costs are covered by most insurance plans. Appointments can be made by calling 326.6267.

The American Cancer Society recommends yearly mammograms for women over age 40.




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