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MultiCare offers expanded breast care program

Posted on Oct. 9, 2014 ( comments)
Natalie Xu cancer doctor

MultiCare Health System has introduced 3D mammography and an on-site radiologist to expand its breast care services into the only program of its kind in South King County.

The new South King County Comprehensive Breast Care Program is providing close-to-home services, from screening through to treatment, at MultiCare locations in Auburn and Covington.

Chris Bredeson, administrator of MultiCare Regional Cancer Center, said the new program alleviates the need for women in South King County to travel outside their communities.

“Right in our own back yard, we have the latest technology in mammography, many of our providers are female, which is important to some patients, and our radiologists are on site at our imaging centers,” Bredeson said.

Mammograms are still the best screening tool for detecting breast cancer, but not all mammography technologies are alike. 

3D mammography, or tomosynthesis, delivers a significant improvement over traditional 2D mammography. It converts multiple images of the breast into thin layers, or “slices,” compared to the single, flat image produced by 2D technology.

Radiologists are able to view one slice at a time, so they can better detect even small cancers. Early detection means patients can receive a diagnosis promptly and start treatment earlier, when it’s most effective. 

With 3D mammography, a radiologist also can more readily rule out anomalies that might have looked suspicious with traditional mammography.

“With 2D mammograms, historically, about one in five women are called back for a follow-up mammogram, ultrasound biopsy, or both,” said Jim Sapienza, administrator of imaging services at Tacoma General. “We can now reduce the call-back rate to roughly the 10 to 12 percent range, rather than 20 percent.”

By reducing the number of call-backs, 3D mammography spares more women the anxiety, inconvenience and expense of returning for additional exams and procedures, Sapienza said.

An on-site radiologist also reduces long and stressful waits for women who undergo diagnostic mammograms, as they can have their results interpreted immediately.

“We’re doing everything we can to speed up the timeframe and give women peace of mind,” said Bredeson. “If my mom or wife had a mammogram that seemed suspicious for cancer, I’d want follow-up to be done as quickly as possible.”

MRI and breast ultrasound technologies also are available.

The South King Comprehensive Breast Care Program means women who receive a breast cancer diagnosis can stay conveniently close to home and receive the most advanced cancer treatment in the region.

MultiCare provides a full complement of specialists, including surgeons, medical and radiation oncologists, genetic counselors and patient care coordinators.

MultiCare surgeons, Eunice Cho, MD, and Erica Scott, MD, see patients at their offices in Auburn. Dr. Cho has an additional office at MultiCare Covington Medical Center.

Patients can also stay in Auburn for chemotherapy and radiation treatments, rehabilitation therapies and a wide range of support services. 

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