Published on June 30, 2020

3D Mammograms Now at MidMichigan Medical Center – West Branch

Photo of techs (left) Stacy Johnson, R.T., (R) (M) (ARRT) and Joni Stillwagon, R.T., (R) (M) (ARRT), stand alongside the new 3D mammography unit at MidMichigan Medical Center – West Branch.

Techs (left) Stacy Johnson, R.T., (R) (M) (ARRT) and Joni Stillwagon, R.T., (R) (M) (ARRT), stand alongside the new 3D mammography unit at MidMichigan Medical Center – West Branch. The new technology improves breast cancer detection while reducing false positives.

Patients in the West Branch area now have access to new technology that improves breast cancer detection while reducing false positives. MidMichigan Medical Center – West Branch is now offering 3D mammography, also known as Digital Breast Tomosynthesis. MidMichigan Health now offers 3D mammography in all the communities it serves.

This new technique uses the same digital mammography equipment as a regular mammogram, but captures additional layers of images through the breasts. It takes just a few seconds more than a regular mammogram. A regular digital screening mammography captures only two images of each breast, while the 3D technology captures many more images allowing the radiologists to visualize masses from normal breast tissue more clearly.

“Breast tomography (3D) has been proven to detect more cancers than conventional mammography while at the same time decreasing false positive results. It is especially useful in women with dense breast tissue,” said Matthew Waack, M.D., radiologist, MidMichigan Medical Center – West Branch. “In addition, the unit that has been installed in West Branch was developed to be more comfortable than other mammography machines. I expect that the improved technology will lead to an improvement in women’s healthcare in our community.”

Patients who schedule mammograms will automatically be asked if they would like a 3D mammogram in addition to traditional mammography views. They do not need a special physician order to have 3D views. Most insurance plans now cover routine screening mammograms for eligible patients at no cost to the patient as part of their preventive benefits. A growing number of plans will also cover the additional charges to capture the extra 3D images when a regular mammogram is already covered. However, MidMichigan encourages patients to check with their insurance plan for specific coverage details.

“It’s important that women starting at the age of 40 make a mammogram part of their annual physical even if they have no symptoms or family history of breast cancer,” said Dr. Waack. “Women with a strong family history of pre-menopausal breast cancer, or who have inherited a gene strongly associated with breast cancer such as BRCA1, BRCA2, should begin screening mammograms earlier than age 40 and should discuss this with their physicians.”

“Simply put ‘Mammography saves lives’,” adds Dr. Waack. “Yearly mammograms can detect cancer early when it is most treatable. Mammograms can show changes in the breast before they can be felt as a lump and also prevent the need for extensive treatment for advanced cancers and the improved chances of breast conservation.”

To learn more about this new technology visit www.midmichigan.org/3dmamm. Patients who would like to schedule a mammogram at MidMichigan Medical Center – West Branch should obtain a mammogram order from their doctor and then call the Central Scheduling Department at (989) 343-3200.

MidMichigan Health has special funds available to help with the cost of a mammogram. For those who qualify, the fund will cover a significant portion of the cost of mammography. Eligibility is limited and some fees may not be covered. Those interested in more information may call the MidMichigan Health Breast Health Program at MidMichigan Medical Center – Midland at (989) 837-9070 or toll-free at (888) 626-4547.

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