The Women's Breast Health and Imaging Center at Aiken Regional Medical Centers upgraded their equipment this year with the addition of new 3D mammography units. The technology plays a crucial role in the early detection of breast cancer.
Unlike 2D mammograms, which take four photos, the new 3D mammogram technology is capable of taking 300 photos within four seconds and penetrating dense tissue, according to Dr. Jill Enter, a general surgeon with Aiken Surgical Associates.
"It makes a compact disc selection of 300 images of the breast, so it allows the radiologist to scroll through that dense breast tissue better and it decreases the amount of false positives that we have," Enter said. "It also allows for earlier detection of breast cancer."
The Women's Breast Health and Imaging Center obtained its first 3D mammography unit in March 2019. Three other units were obtained in July.
Enter, who previously worked at Aiken Regional and returned recently after working for the Doctor's Hospital of August for five years, said she frequently does breast cancer surgeries, as most of her female patients seem to prefer a female doctor in the area of breast health.
She said that, even with the constant improvements in medical technology, patient education and awareness of the disease is key in the battle against breast cancer.
"It's always changing," Enter said. "Even in the last 10 years since I've been in private practice, it has dramatically turned on its head."
Enter said women need to do self-exams more frequently, as breast cancer normally presents as a small lump in the breast. She said women at risk for the disease also need to pay more attention to their family history – especially on their father's side.
"Fifty percent of your genetics comes from your dad's side, too," Enter said. "Breast cancer is not just a female-oriented thing."
She also said regular mammograms are extremely important, and patients with a family history of breast cancer should begin screenings several years before the age of 40, when most patients are scheduled for their first mammogram.
"Don't not have a screening because you don't have insurance," Enter said. "Don't ignore it."
For those without insurance, some grants can be provided for those who qualify to help offset the cost of breast cancer screenings. Best Chance Network, which is based in Columbia, is one such organization.
For more info about the Women's Breast Health and Imaging Center, visit aikenregional.com.