Friday, April 12, 2024

3-D mammograms at NHRMC offer better detection, fewer return visits

One of NHRMC’s new 3-D machines. (Courtesy Claire Parker, NHRMC)

WILMINGTON — Breast cancer is the second most common cancer in women, with 231,840 news cases diagnosed in 2015 (according to the American Cancer Society). The best defense is detection, and the New Hanover Regional Medical Center (NHRMC) has recently upgraded its mammography equipment to provide better diagnosis for its patients.

“It’s a wonderful thing we’re offering to our patients,” said Linda Marryat, coordinator of mammography at NHRMC. “We’ve invested heavily in the 3-D screening technology for the benefit of our patients.”

The new machines operate in a similar fashion to older 2-D machines. 

“Patients are positioned the same way. We’re still taking traditional 2D scans as well, so for patients who have had mammograms, this will be familiar,” Marryat said. “The procedure is only about four seconds longer. The radiation levels are still very low. That’s one of the things we looked for when the FDA approved this technology in 2011. And results are still available in about a week, there’s no change there.”

The 3-D mammography machine captures multiple images at multiple angles, allowing doctors to look at the image in a variety of ways.

“It also allows a fine-tuned approach,” Marryat added, “So professionals can examine the image one thin slice at a time, like the pages of a book.”

The added detail and depth of the images allow for significant improvements to diagnostic ability, allowing for a 41 percent increase in detection of invasive breast cancer.

“This new technology also reduces patient call-backs by 40 percent,” she said. “Those are patients that we would have, in the past, had to call back because we didn’t get a clear image. That reduction in call-backs, as you can imagine, drastically reduces patient stress and anxiety.”

Mammograms at NHRMC locations are covered by Pink Ribbon, Cigna and Medicare, according to Marryat.

“Patients with other insurance plans would have to contact their providers,” she said. “However, I can say that out of pocket cost is only $54 for interpretation of the results by an independent radiologist.”

For those who are un- or under-insured, the Pink Ribbon Project of the New Hanover Regional Medical Center (NHRMC) Foundation offers free Mammograms for those who meet certain financial requirements. And for those looking to support the Pink Ribbon Project, there is a fundraising event scheduled for Friday, March 17, at the Hilton Wilmington Riverside. Details and tickets are available at the foundation website

NHRMC offers 3D mammograms as their standard of care at all five of its locations, four in the great Wilmington area and one in Rocky Point.

To schedule an appointment, contact NHRMC at 910-667-8777 (for Rock Point appointments, call 910-300-4300).

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