September 17, 2019 | by admin
Blog by our Calgary Woman's Show presenting sponsor, Mayfair Diagnostics
Many women are reluctant to have regular mammograms because they find the experience uncomfortable. At Mayfair Diagnostics we introduced new mammography technology that helps reduce anxiety and makes the experience more comfortable.
“If you’ve never gone, now’s the time to go, because it’s not what it used to be. It’s pain-free, it’s easy, and it saves your life.”
A first in Western Canada, the new Senographe Pristina mammography system gives patients the option to adjust their own level of breast compression during their mammogram. After the breast is properly positioned by a technologist and initial compression is set, the patient can use a handheld wireless remote control – called patient-assisted compression – to adjust the level of compression to what’s comfortable for her, under the guidance of a technologist.
“It was a much different experience when I went for a mammogram this time; it was so quick and easy,” says Donna Grandan, a Mayfair mammography patient. “If you’ve never gone, now’s the time to go, because it’s not what it used to be. It’s pain-free, it’s easy, and it saves your life.”
Since the late 1980s, Canada’s breast cancer death rate has been declining thanks to earlier detection from regular mammography screening and improvements in treatment. According to the Canadian Cancer Society, about 87% of women diagnosed with breast cancer are still alive after five years, and the earlier cancer is diagnosed and treated, the better the outcome.
Many women start having screening mammograms every year at about age 40, since Alberta Health Care covers one mammogram per year starting at that age. Mayfair Diagnostics recommends that you have a mammogram every year from age 40 to 49. After that we recommend a mammogram every two years from age 50 to 75, unless you have pain or concerns with your breasts, or if you have spoken with your doctor and your medical history suggests a mammogram each year is beneficial.
“With this new technology it’s not like old technology where it can be quite uncomfortable.”
When women avoid regular screening it makes it difficult for a radiologist to compare images and see changes or areas of concern and thus catch abnormalities early.
“I think it’s very important that women have regular screening. I have a family history of cancer, and breast cancer, so for me personally it was really important to make sure after 40 I go every year to check and make sure that nothing is abnormal,” says Amanda MacKay, a Mayfair mammography patient. “With this new technology it’s not like old technology where it can be quite uncomfortable.”
When Mayfair introduced the new system in March 2018 more than 400 patients were willing to provide feedback on their experience with the new technology. Among those patients, 75% said that it was more comfortable than previous mammograms and 90% said they would be extremely likely to come back for their regular screening.
The Alberta Health Care Insurance plan covers one screening mammogram per year for women age 40 and above, but the frequency of regular screening will depend on age and risk factors, like a personal history of breast, ovarian, or uterine cancer, a first-degree relative (parent, sibling, child) diagnosed with breast cancer, etc. Breast density can also be a concern.
Dense breasts have less fatty tissue, more fibroglandular tissue and a higher risk of cancer. Fatty tissue appears dark on a mammogram while both abnormalities and fibroglandular tissue appear white, making abnormalities harder to find. Dense breasts are quite common, but they can only be determined by a mammogram. At Mayfair Diagnostics all of our mammography machines are equipped with software that classifies breast density, which is included in reports to referring doctors. Women with dense breast tissue often benefit from regular mammograms with additional supplemental ultrasound screening.
Mayfair Diagnostics has 11 locations which offer mammography exams, including Mahogany Village, Market Mall, Mayfair Place, and Southcentre locations which have the Senographe Pristina system. For more information, visit radiology.ca or speak to your doctor about when screening is right for you. You can also call our Contact Centre at 403-777-3000.