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3-D: Images Worth a Thousand Words
CEDAR RAPIDS, IA (CBS2/FOX28)--A huge milestone in detecting breast cancer in women of all shapes and sizes has come to the Corridor.
St. Luke's Hospital, Mercy Medical Center, Radiology Consultants of Iowa and OB-GYN Associates announced Monday they'll begin using 3-D mammography.
All four facilities have purchased the new technology that's only been out for 4 years.
"Now, we can look at every single layer of breast," Dr. Laura Hemann said.
Hemann is a RCI radiologist and said 3-D imaging is like a book.
"You can look at the cover and look at the other cover but its hard to see whats in between. "If you now take that book and open it and look at each page individually that's what this technology is allowing us to do," she said.
The facilities started offering patients the option to choose 3-D mammography Monday.
Becky Albert was one of the first patients to try the new technology.
"I'm very fortunate," Albert said. "I'm one of those ones where they say I have the fatty breast where it's harder to read."
Just two months ago, doctors found a small tumor in her right breast. After some additional testing, it was cancer.
"You just don't know what to say at that point," Albert said. "You just take one step at a time."
She said it's a blessing in disguise that doctors used 3-D imaging to detect the tumor.
If doctors would have used 2-D, they may not have seen the small tumor.
"I'm very glad it was found early. I got 5 beautiful grand kids to live for and 3 children."
2-D imaging provides doctors with only four images and makes it harder to detect breast cancer in women with dense or gray breast tissue.
3-D can provided up to 80 images of the breast so radiologists can scroll through images of the entire breast to detect tumors.
Recent studies have shown 3-D mammography finds a 41% increase in the detection of invasive breast cancers and a 29% increase in the detection of all breast cancers, according to the Journal of the American Medical Association.
"In patients that have dense breast tissue, it helps you find things easier," Dr. Arnold Honick said.
Honick, RCI radiologist, said he believes 3-D mammography costs less for patients because it gives an accurate image the first time. Honick can tell through the images whether he needs to call a patient back for an ultrasound or not.
Doctors said the images are worth a thousand words with the new 3-D imaging because it provides far more evidence if something is really there.
The cost isn't cheap though.
3-D imaging equipment can cost up to $500,000 and patients pay out of pocket because insurance companies aren't covering for 3-D.
Doctors hope that changes and that by the first of the year, insurance companies can help female patients pay for 3-D.
Depending on where you go, it could cost between $40-$60 per visit.
But it's an investment Albert and all the doctors say is worth it, because 3-D can detect a tumor sooner.
"In my case they probably wouldn't have found the tumor unless they did the 3-D on me," Albert said.
Albert is recovering from her surgery this past month and starts radiation for 6 weeks.
She said she enjoy life knowing the tumor was caught early.
Her husband Mike and her will be celebrating their 42nd wedding anniversary this month.