April 27, 2015 – Over 17 million American women live in rural areas today, which makes taking the time for a breast cancer screening exam that much more challenging. The nearest healthcare facility may be far away so a mammography screening appointment can require a significant time commitment.
The lack of convenient screening centers is one of the reasons that some women do not undergo screening. Breast cancer remains the second leading cause of death from cancer for women in the United States, according to the American Association for Cancer Research. Regular mammograms can make all the difference through early detection and aggressive intervention, which significantly improves chances for survival. Screening mammograms are used to check for breast cancer in women who have no signs or symptoms of the disease and are much more sensitive to spotting tumors than self-examinations. When detected early, the breast cancer survival rate is extremely high.
In response to rural community needs, Hennepin County Medical Center (HCMC) established a mobile mammography unit that provides women with a convenient way to get mammograms. This program allows HCMC to provide life-saving early breast cancer detection services to women all over the greater Minneapolis area with state-of-the-art digital screening equipment that emits low levels of radiation and provides accurate breast imaging. The radiologists at the medical center then routinely use computer-aided detection, which assists in the identification of small breast cancers.
“Reducing the barriers to healthcare is a priority for us,” says Dr. Truwit, Professor and Chief, Department of Radiology, HCMC. “Having mammography mobile units in less accessible areas of the county helps ensure that we provide women with the same level of care as they would receive in our breast center. We want to bring the best technologies to women in communities across Minnesota.”
The HCMC mobile unit employs full field digital mammography, which is an X-ray machine providing low-dose mammography and high quality images. Mammograms are then reviewed using Parascript® AccuDetect® Computer-Aided Detection (CAD) system that helps radiologists to discriminate between malignant and nonmalignant lesions and increases detection of cancers.
It is through innovative programs such as the mobile mammography unit that HCMC delivers the same standard of care to its urban and rural communities.
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