Glens Falls Hospital Takes Mammograms to New Dimension

Shown with Glens Falls Hospital’s new 3D mammography technology are (from left) Noelle Schwab RT(R)(M); Lesley Backus RT(R)(M); Tracey Blunt RT(R)(M); and Michelle Swartz RT(R)(M).

It is estimated that approximately half of all women have dense breast tissue that can make detecting cancer with a mammogram difficult.

Glens Falls Hospital is helping to address that issue with the addition of 3D mammography technology at The Breast Center.

"This is a significant investment in the health of our community,” said Michelle Swartz, Operations Manager at The Breast Center and a longtime mammographer. “This technology allows us to examine the breast in one millimeter-thin slices, helping reduce the chance that cancer will be obscured by dense tissue.”

Breasts are made up of glands, supportive tissue and fatty tissue. Women with more glandular and supportive tissue than fatty tissue are said to have dense breast tissue. On a mammogram, dense tissue appears white, as does cancer, which can make cancer detection difficult.

With 3D mammography, known as tomosynthesis, an X-ray arm moves in a slight arc over the breast, taking multiple images. A computer then converts the images into a stack of one millimeter-thin layers, allowing doctors to review the breast tissue one layer at a time, helping reduce the chance that cancer will be missed. The mammogram process and experience for a woman is much the same as a traditional mammogram, with breast compression taking just a few seconds longer.

The Breast Center is utilizing 3D mammography for women with the two highest levels of breast density, as well as for women with a personal history of cancer or whose mother, sister or daughter have had the disease.

“There’s no question: 3D mammography will make a difference in this community,” said Dr. Christine Rowe-Button, a radiologist with Adirondack Radiology Associates who specializes in reading mammography images. “It gives us a more accurate tool for identifying breast cancer, and finding it earlier, which is a major factor in successfully fighting the disease.”

The Breast Center’s seven mammographers have gone through specialized training with the new technology, as have the radiologists of Adirondack Radiology Associates.

“Having this important tool available to us is another reason why we believe The Breast Center is a woman’s best choice for her annual mammogram,” Ms. Swartz said. “Not only do we have the latest in screening technology, if a woman has an abnormal finding, she’s able to get all of her follow-up care right here, from a more detailed diagnostic mammogram or ultrasound to biopsies.”