One of the most important healthcare decisions a woman will make is where to undergo breast screening.
“Most women assume that all imaging facilities offer the same services and are pretty much interchangeable,” says Kathi Hoffer, Imaging Operations Manager, Breast Care Center at Dignity Health, Yavapai Regional Medical Center (YRMC). “In reality, there are significant differences between imaging centers.”
This October – National Breast Cancer Awareness Month – the Breast Care Center and Prescott Medical Imaging (PMI) are giving you five questions to ask before choosing an imaging center. We’ll also clear up some of the confusion about how frequently you should undergo screening mammography.
- Does your facility have advanced breast imaging technology?
The Breast Care Center and PMI have exceptional technology dedicated to detecting breast cancer. This includes state-of-the-art digital mammography, a dedicated breast MRI system, three-dimensional breast imaging, the Hologic Supersonic Mach 30 breast ultrasound and more.
“Technology is constantly improving so it’s also important for imaging centers to continually invest in proven technology,” Hoffer explains.
- If I need a follow-up imaging procedure after a screening mammogram, is that available at your facility?
The imaging center where you undergo your screening mammograms should be your breast health home.
“I encourage women to think long term about their breast health,” explains Hoffer. “This means finding a center that can manage all breast imaging needs you may encounter at different times.”
The Breast Care Center features a continuum of breast health services. The Center provides breast screening, diagnostic procedures and, if needed, treatment planning and the guidance of a clinical navigator.
- Do your radiologic technologists – the professionals who conduct mammograms – specialize in breast imaging?
At the Breast Care Center and PMI, screening mammograms are performed by breast imaging technologists. These are radiologic technologists specially trained in breast imaging.
“This really makes a difference in your mammogram,” says Hoffer. “Our breast imaging technologists are experienced at positioning for optimal views, recognizing possible pathology and taking extra views when needed.”
- Are your radiologists board certified?
Radiologists are the physicians who interpret your mammogram and other imaging studies. At both the Breast Care Center and PMI, our radiologists are certified by leading radiology accrediting organizations. They also have trained at some of the nation’s top radiology programs.
“We have an amazing team of radiologists,” says Hoffer. “They are extremely skilled at interpreting breast screenings as well as performing breast-related diagnostic studies and procedures.”
- Are your breast imaging modalities accredited?
The American College of Radiology (ACR) is the leading accreditation organization for imaging studies in the United States. ACR accreditation means an imaging center provides the highest level of image quality and safety requirements for equipment, medical personnel and quality assurance.
Both the Breast Care Center and PMI have earned ACR accreditation in mammography. The Breast Care Center also has earned ACR accreditation in breast MRI and stereotactic biopsy.
A Mammogram Screening Schedule
Since 1990, screening mammography has helped reduce breast cancer mortality by nearly 40% in the United States. That’s an extremely positive track record. It’s why the Breast Care Center and PMI support the screening recommendations developed by the ACR. They include:
- A baseline mammogram between the ages of 35 and 40
- Yearly mammograms after age 40
- Continued annual screening for as long as you would pursue treatment if cancer was detected
“Our community is full of very vibrant women in their 70s, 80s and even their 90s,” Hoffer says. “That’s a major reason we do not recommend ending annual mammograms at a certain age.”
Schedule Your Mammogram
Has it been more than a year since your last mammogram? Contact the Breast Care Center in Prescott Valley or PMI in Prescott at (928) 771-7577 to schedule your screening. It’s the best way to celebrate National Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
Submitted by Dignity Health, Yavapai Regional Medical Center