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Better tests for breasts - UHWI acquires state-of-the-art machine to conduct mammograms

Published:Friday | January 18, 2019 | 12:00 AMNadine Wilson-Harris
Dr Derria Cornwall

The recent acquisition of a tomosynthesis 3D mammography machine by The University Hospital of the West Indies (UHWI) is expected to help reduce the discomfort experienced by women during mammograms.

Chief executive officer of the UHWI, Kevin Allen, said that the hospital hopes to make the service available to the public in the next two to three months.

"It will be the only mammography unit functional in the government system, so we are taking great care in looking at women's health," Allen told The Sunday Gleaner.

Head of the university's mammography department, Dr Derria Cornwall, said that the tomosynthesis machine is one of the latest technologies in screening for breast cancer because it gives three-dimensional images of the breast.

"Mammography is a very effective tool for detecting breast cancer at an early stage and it is the only screening equipment that has been found to decrease the death rate or the mortality rate from breast cancer," said Cornwall.

"Over the years, there have been challenges with mammography with regard to the patients, especially the patients with dense breast," added Cornwall.

The tomosynthesis machine is expected to address this issue since it allows for better interpretation of mammographic features and solves one of the long-standing problems of overlapping shadows on mammography machines that produces 2D images.

Although mammograms can be uncomfortable, Cornwall said they are "almost painless" with the use of this latest technology.

"Another benefit of the machine is that when we do the mammogram with the 2D image, there are areas on the mammogram that are questionable," she said.

"We may have to be calling back patients more with the 2D mammogram, to do additional views and additional studies, which would cause unnecessary anxiety to the patient and also incur additional medical cost to the patient," noted Cornwall.