Important Exam Goes Digital

New technology is helping doctors catch breast cancers earlier.

Mammography has gone digital. Reading a mammogram used to be a matter of a fixed image from film, using a magnifying glass to get a better look. With digital images, all it takes is a click of the mouse.

Stormont-Vail made the conversion from film at its facilities just over a month ago. Dr. John Gay, a radiologist with the Jane C. Stormont Women's Center, says he believes he's seeing things better and more clearly, and that means better diagnosis.

"Our whole purpose is to find cancers when they're small, before they get bigger and do damage," Dr. Gay said.

While the test is basically the same from the woman's point of view, Dr. Gay says an electronic image stored on a computer is a big change. He says the big advantage is in being to manipulate the image by enlarging it and seeing it in several different ways.

Dr. Gay says digital mammography offers the biggest advantage for women with denser breast tissue. He says the film had a hard time seeing through that tissue, but the improved contrast of the digital images makes it better able to spot areas of concern.

It's a view that could save a life.

"Anytime you find breast cancers smaller and earlier, survival goes up," he said.

If you're a woman over age 40 who can't afford a mammogram, the Race Against Breast Cancer can help. It's offering a free screening week July 23rd to 27th. To find out if you qualify and make an appointment, call Health Connections at 785-354-5225. You'll also find more information at www.rabctopeka.org.


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