Diagnosis: Breast Cancer, using 3-D Mammography
Carol Tranfaglia was a big believer in preventive care – even before it saved her life.
Every year since turning 40, Carol would get her annual screening mammogram at the EvergreenHealth Breast Health Center.
When that exam was done on the center’s brand-new 3-D mammography unit – it detected a very aggressive form of breast cancer in its earliest, most treatable stage.
“I work at a biotech company involved in cancer research,” Carol says, “but the word ‘cancer’ had never been applied to me. It took my breath away.”
Suddenly, Carol had another job – fighting for her life.
“The funny thing is, I never really thought my life was threatened,” she recalls. “Once I got all of the information, I really understood the value of 3-D mammography – it caught my cancer early.”
“We can’t prevent cancer, but if we can find it early, there’s a better chance for survival,” explains Dr. Kara Carlson, radiologist and medical director of the EvergreenHealth Breast Health Center.
“That’s why we felt it was important to add the new 3-D mammography to our diagnostic technology.”
The scan is no different for the patient from the usual 2-D mammogram, but it results in an image that’s more like a CT scan and that allows radiologists to view the breast in 1-millimeter “slices.”
It’s this detail that can reveal cancers that may not be seen on 2-D mammograms.
The technology is already paying big dividends for EvergreenHealth patients.
“Since we started using our the 3-D mammography units, we have found more than 100 cancers that would only have been found using the 3-D,” Dr. Carlson reports.
The center also saw a 31 percent drop in recall rates because the 3-D images are so precise.
“We always strive to do what’s best for the patient,” she adds. “That’s why we’ve always been a leader in adopting new diagnostic technology.”
In fact, because of EvergreenHealth’s advanced methods and technology, 70 percent of cancer patients are diagnosed in the early stages, compared to just over half nationally.
With the success of its first 3-D mammography unit, the Breast Health Center has added more 3-D units, including one in the mobile mammography coach.
But when it comes to treating breast cancer, advanced diagnostic technology is just one important part of the equation.
From the moment of her diagnosis, Carol Tranfaglia had dozens of questions about what would happen next … and the staff at EvergreenHealth was there to help her.
“They took care of setting up all of my appointments, and made sure I was informed and supported every step of the way,” Carol recalls.
“That level of care and compassion made a world of difference to me and to my husband. It really helped the healing process and made me feel like I was going to be whole again.”
Because the 3-D mammography caught her cancer early, before it spread to her lymph nodes, Carol did not need chemotherapy.
“I had a lumpectomy and seven weeks of radiation therapy, which is not insignificant, of course,” she says, “but not having to go through chemotherapy, for me, made a big difference.”
For that, Carol is grateful to EvergreenHealth’s ever-advancing technology and hopes others who read her story will take advantage of it.
“We’re so fortunate that EvergreenHealth has this lifesaving technology available,” she stresses. “It can make a big difference.”
You can make a mammography appointment online or by phone at 425.899.2831.