Dr. James McMahon and Sue Wiscombe review a digital mammogram

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Digital Mammography Now Available at Women’s Imaging Center

The latest in digital mammography is available in a suite specifically dedicated to women at Solano Diagnostics Imaging in Fairfield.

“Digital mammography is becoming the standard of care for breast cancer screening,” says Adrian Riggs, director of Solano Diagnostics Imaging. “When further examination is needed, we offer both breast magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and MRI-guided breast biopsies.”

The new digital technology creates an electronic image of the breast. By storing it digitally, technicians can transmit the image faster to radiologists, who can give doctors their readings in a more timely—and cost effective—fashion.

A recent National Cancer Institute study found that digital mammography is significantly better than film mammography when screening women under age 50, or women of any age who have very dense breasts.

For women at higher risk of breast cancer, or when an abnormality is found, a breast MRI is the next step, and this service is also available at Solano Diagnostics Imaging.

“Often when an abnormality is found by MRI, the only way to find it again for a tissue sample is with an MRI-guided biopsy,” according to Riggs. “That’s why it’s important to make sure you visit a facility like ours that offers both services.”

For women, breast cancer is the most common non-skin cancer and the second leading cancer-related death in the United States. Death rates from breast cancer have been declining since 1990, and the decreases are due in part to earlier detection and improved treatment.

The Women’s Imaging Center is in NorthBay Health Plaza, adjacent to NorthBay Medical Center on B. Gale Wilson Boulevard in Fairfield.

Most women do not need a physician referral to schedule a screening mammogram at Solano Diagnostics Imaging. For further information, call (707) 624-7575.

Scanner is Another Tool in the Fight

Breast cancer prevention gets down to the molecular level, thanks to Northern California’s first positron emission mammography—or PEM—scanner. The technology is available from Northern California PET Imaging Center, which brings its mobile PET/CT imaging unit to NorthBay Medical Center once a week.

PEM is a dedicated, high-resolution imaging device that uses the same molecular imaging concept as the PET Scan (positron emission tomography). PEM, however, can reveal breast cancers as small as 1.5 to 2 millimeters, enabling physicians to identify and characterize malignant tumors that may otherwise go undetected.

The test is particularly useful for women whose anatomical imaging studies are difficult to interpret due to dense breasts, fibrocystic disease or implants.

PEM does not replace mammograms. The test simply is an additional imaging tool to use when breast cancer is suspected or diagnosed.

Northern California PET Imaging Center is a not-for-profit, community benefit organization.

For more information, call Jan Cronin, market development manager at (916) 737-3211, or visit www.ncpic.org

Using MRI to Diagnose Breast Cancer

When other imaging procedures fail to provide a diagnosis, physicians turn to magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Unlike traditional x-ray examinations, MRI doesn’t depend on radiation. Instead, a powerful magnetic field and radio waves are used to produce images that are processed by computer and show thin slices of the body. The images can then be studied from different angles by the radiologist.

Breast MRI may be recommended if you are at high risk of developing breast cancer or have a strong family history of breast cancer or ovarian cancer. It is also used if you have very dense breast tissue and a prior breast cancer wasn’t detected by mammogram.

Breast MRI is not used as a replacement for mammography, but as an additional diagnostic tool. Although a sensitive test, breast MRI can still miss some cancers that a mammogram will detect.

When a suspicious mass is not identified by other imaging techniques, a MRI-guided breast biopsy can be used to remove some cells for examination under a microscope. This procedure is less invasive than surgical biopsy and leaves little or no scarring. The radiologist uses MRI guidance to calculate the position of the abnormal tissue and to verify the position of the needle used to remove tissue samples.

Currently, Solano Diagnostics Imaging is the only facility in Solano County offering both breast MRI and MRI-guided biopsy at the same location.

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