Successful fundraising brings 3D mammography to SEMC.

When the Sleepy Eye Medical Center hosted their Paint the Town Pink breast cancer awareness event in October of 2017, Dr. Karlyn Armbruster spoke to the gathering of about 100 women about breast cancer — the signs, risk factors, detection and treatment. She also spoke about the new 3D mammography, which she expected to become the standard of care, and said hopefully SEMC would be ready to provide 3D mammograms sometime the next year.

A few months later, in March 2018, SEMC Administrator Kevin Sellheim announced the Minnesota Department of Health awarded SEMC $39,000 through the Rural Hospital Planning and Transition Grant Program to assist in funding the purchase of 3D mammography software.

At that time, Sellheim said they were ecstatic about the award, because of what it would mean for the patients. He said the upgrade from 2D to 3D mammography software would cost approximately $220,000 and the grant would aid in its purchase.

With an ambitious fundraising goal, a new event was planned by SEMC and the Sleepy Eye Healthcare Foundation — the Spirit of Giving Gala.

“We were looking for a fun and different way to get the community involved in a cause that would enhance the care for patients today and well into the future. That’s when hosting a gala came to mind,” said Mikayla Bruggeman, SEMC Community Relations Coordinator.

The Spirit of Giving Gala, held at the Event Center this past October, was a very successful fundraising event.

“We raised $140,000 at the Gala,” said Bruggeman. “With the grant funds, proceeds from our annual golf tournament, and a donation from the Sleepy Eye Healthcare Foundation, we had reached our goal to fund the purchase of 3D mammography.”

Megan Green, Radiology Manager at SEMC, answered the Herald-Dispatch’s questions about 3D mammography at SEMC.

H-D: When did SEMC start providing 3D mammograms?

Green: Sleepy Eye Medical Center received the software for 3D mammography and it was installed on Nov. 2, 2018. SEMC’s Hologic Selenia® Dimensions® Mammogram unit was upgradable to 3D via a software upgrade. After successfully completing required testing on the machine, SEMC began offering services to patients on Nov. 6.

As of March 14, we have performed 133 Digital Breast Tomosynthesis (3D) mammograms at SEMC.

H-D: What is 3D mammography?

Green: Digital Breast Tomosynthesis is a new mammography technology that creates a three-dimensional image of the breast. It is also referred to as DBT, Tomosynthesis, or three-dimensional (3D) mammography.

Tomosynthesis offers exceptional image clarity and detail by imaging the breast in multiple “layers.” With the radiologist viewing each layer separately, a potential cancer is less likely to be obstructed by overlapping breast tissue. This results in fewer biopsies, fewer additional tests, as well as increased detectability.

H-D: What is better about this technology?

Green: Because 3D mammography provides images of the breast in “layers” from many different angles, finding abnormalities and determining which abnormalities seem potentially worrisome may be easier with 3D tests. According to Hologic studies, 3D mammography is proven to detect 20 percent to 65 percent more invasive breast cancers compared to 2D alone, an average increase of 41 percent. 3D mammography has also been proven to reduce callbacks by up to 40 percent compared to 2D alone.

H-D: Is the process any different for the patient?

Green: Patients can expect the same mammography experience with Tomosynthesis as they do with 2D mammography. Each exam takes approximately the same amount of time. Both 3D and 2D exams involve compression of the breast. If you choose 3D mammography, you will notice the camera move over the breast in an arc motion (without touching). This movement allows the machine to take multiple images through the breast. In both 2D and 3D mammography, the breast is compressed between two plates. In 2D mammograms, images are only from the front and side — this may create images with overlapping breast tissue.

H-D: Does health insurance cover 3D mammograms?

Green: The majority of insurance providers now cover 3D, but it may vary. Please check with your insurance provider to find out if 3D mammography is covered under your plan. If your insurance does not yet cover 3D mammography, SEMC still offers 2D mammography as well.

H-D: Is there anything else we should know?

Green: Digital Breast Tomosynthesis benefits all women, regardless of breast density, size, or age. SEMC providers recommend all women over 40 have an annual mammogram.