Fight against breast cancer gets boost
Times Staff Writer
The Gunnison Valley soon may be on the cutting edge of breast cancer detection thanks to the latest contribution by Cattlemen’s Days Tough Enough To Wear Pink (TETWP).
Organization Executive Director Heidi Sherratt Bogart announced this week that TETWP has purchased a 3D tomosynthesis mammography machine and donated it to Gunnison Valley Health (GVH). The $360,000 machine is the largest single gift in the organization's history.
Tomosynthesis is the latest in mammogram technology that helps radiologists better identify breast cancer in dense breast tissue. Traditional mammogram machines produce two-dimensional images while the tomosynthesis uses several images to produce a three-dimensional depiction. According to breastcancer.org, the 3D images reduce "false positive" results and additional imaging, while better detecting potential breast cancer in dense tissue.
"Because this community is so active there is likely a higher incidence of breast density," said Sherratt Bogart. "Up until now you had to definitely travel to get that kind of diagnostics performed. Our goal is to keep everyone here. So this was a need for a majority of the population in this valley."
Sherratt Bogart said the new machine is a top of the line model that rivals one of the best breast cancer facilities in the state: Invision Sally Jobe, a multispecialty imaging network available on the Front Range.
GVH in recent months has worked to improve the quality of radiology readings. A new partnership with Radiology Imaging Associates (RIA) has been formed which will allow the new 3D machine to be utilized to its fullest. RIA is a group of 90 radiologist located in Denver, all of whom are subspecialists in their particular field, said GVH spokesman Tyler Hansen. It is the same group that runs Invision Sally Jobe.
“When that level of expertise is coupled with a piece of equipment as advanced as our new 3D Tomosynthesis Mammography machine we can offer a level of quality that rivals absolutely anywhere in the state,” said GVH Chief Executive Rob Santilli.
Santilli expressed his thanks to TETWP, and offered that the community is "better and healthier" because of the organization. He credited the donation with enabling GVH to take a "giant leap forward in breast care service."
Spokesman Hansen said the machine is expected to arrive at the hospital on July 17 but won't immediately be available for use. Federal Drug Administration and American College of Radiologist regulations must first be met, and training needs to be performed before the 3D machine can be legally operated. He estimated new imaging to be performed beginning in September.
(Chris Rourke can be contacted at 970.641.1414 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.)