An added dimension to breast cancer fight

 

Dr. Anush Parikh, a radiologist with Mid-Delaware Imaging on S. Queen St., in Dover, talks about the family practice’s new 3D mammography scanner. MDI is the first in Kent County to make the new technology of 3D mammography available to its patients. (Special to The Delaware State News/Gary Emeigh)

Dr. Anush Parikh, a radiologist with Mid-Delaware Imaging on S. Queen St., in Dover, talks about the family practice’s new 3D mammography scanner. MDI is the first in Kent County to make the new technology of 3D mammography available to its patients. (Special to The Delaware State News/Gary Emeigh)

DOVER — Even though breast cancer isn’t a death sentence, the key to surviving the disease is an early diagnosis.

That’s why Mid-Delaware Imaging now is providing 3-D mammography technology to residents of central Delaware.

“We can’t keep practicing medicine like it’s the ’90s,” said MDI radiologist Dr. Anush Parikh. “3-D technology was FDA-approved in 2011 and in that time, no practice in Kent County has adopted it.”

MDI’s decision to make 3-D mammography available to its patients makes it the first practice in Kent County to offer the service.

The American Cancer Association and American College of Radiation both suggest women begin annual breast cancer screening at age 40 and many physicians will refer patients to an imaging practice like MDI, almost all of which employ digital 2-D technology.

Digital 2-D mammography presents a radiologist with two images of each breast: one a view of breast tissue from side to side and another of the tissue from top to bottom. In 3-D imaging, however, a radiologist is given a layer-by-layer view of the breast tissue.

The best comparison of 2-D to 3-D mammography is the difference between an X-ray and an MRI.

“The problem is cancer can remain hidden in the 2-D view since you’re looking at overlapping breast tissue,” Dr. Parikh said. “So the scan is more difficult to read, especially if the patient is younger or has dense breasts.”

In younger women still within or near child-bearing age, glandular tissue (used for milk production) creates a cloudier, whiter image than older women or those with fattier breast tissue and makes weeding cancer out more difficult since cancer also appears white on the scan.

With traditional 2-D mammography, the radiologist has the ability to adjust the contrast of the scan to determine areas that may appear cancerous but with a 3-D image, a radiologist may view the breast in a layered view, millimeter by millimeter, to see what lies within the tissue, even if it is dense.

According to Hologic, the manufacturer of Genius 3-D mammography, the technology allows radiologists to detect 27 percent more cancers and 41 percent more invasive cancers. These numbers may even be higher at MDI because unlike every other Delaware practice, two radiologists review the scans of each patient.

The toll 3-D technology takes on patients is equivalent to that of 2-D with Hologic reporting a scan time of less than four seconds and radiation exposure levels comparable to 2-D.

3-D imaging also can place a patient’s mind at ease as radiologists can determine test results more accurately.

“With 2-D imaging, about one in every 10 patients gets called back for further testing and just asking a patient to come back in raises anxiety, and in many cases, patients are put through that for no reason,” Dr. Parikh said. “But with the 3-D technology, we are given much clearer images so the number of patients we need to call back is reduced by about 40 percent.”

The clarity of the image allows the radiologist to pinpoint the location of the cancer or suspicious tissue so when the time comes for a biopsy, less tissue needs to be removed because an accurate size and location are known.

“We wanted to begin providing 3-D imaging because since it was FDA-approved in 2011, patients have been driving hours to places like Philadelphia and Baltimore to get it and for about a year now, it’s also been available in Christiana,” Dr. Parikh said. “People shouldn’t have to drive more than an hour from home to get the best imaging.”

Although distance between patients and the technology has posed a problem, it isn’t the only obstacle; 3-D mammograms are not covered by all insurance providers and fees for choosing 3-D over 2-D can cost patients an additional $60 or more.

The additional cost is partly attributed to the expense of the 3-D equipment. A 2-D mammography machine typically costs around $200,000 while 3-D is about $350,000.

But MDI doesn’t believe patients should be refused the best imaging services because insurance doesn’t pay, so the practice is offering the service to all patients for no additional cost for a limited time.

MDI is a family practice opened in 1990 by Dr. Mahendra Parikh and his sons, Dr. Anush Parikh, who joined the practice in 2008 followed by Dr. Amol Parikh in 2014.

The practice also has four mammography technologists who have all extensive experience with 2-D technology and have recently been trained for 3-D mammography.

MDI provides a variety of imaging services including CT scans, MRIs, X-rays, ultrasounds and fluoroscopy.

MDI is at 710 S. Queen St. in Dover and can be reached at 734-9888.

Reach staff writer Ashton Brown at abrown@newszap.com. Follow @AshtonReports on Twitter.

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