A breast cancer diagnosis can be terrifying. Depending upon the recommended treatment, many patients may want to get a second opinion from another subspecialist before proceeding. This process can be burdensome for everyone involved - you, your patient and the physician providing a second opinion - thanks to the antiquated method of sharing mammograms - gathering your information by mailing CDs or sending faxes (or, even worse - mailing the film itself!)
October marks the beginning of Breast Cancer Awareness Month. With one in eight women receiving a diagnosis in her lifetime (in the U.S.), there’s a high chance this disease has impacted you, if not by your own experience, perhaps through a friend or relative’s diagnosis. Early detection is the best way to stay ahead of this disease, and that involves taking ownership of your own health. Your first step is to ask for copies of your mammograms.
It’s true, mammograms are still the best tool to detect breast cancer. US breast cancer statistics report that in 2018, 1 in 8 women will develop an invasive form of breast cancer. Which all boils down to one scary fact: approximately 40,920 women in the US are “expected” to die from breast cancer in 2018 alone. Mammograms are the first step to taking preventative measures, but it doesn’t stop there. What about how these images are viewed by a radiologist? Not all PACS are created equal. In fact, do you know if you are even viewing high quality breast images on an approved DICOM viewer?
Traditionally, mammography imaging studies are stored on a local onsite picture archiving and communications system (PACS). There are two reasons for this. First, mammography studies are difficult and slow to transmit electronically due to their size. Second, traditionally specialized software and reading stations located near modalities have been required to read mammography images.
In recent years, many cutting-edge radiology facilities that perform breast imaging have begun offering a new imaging technology called digital breast tomosynthesis (DBT) in addition to or in place of standard mammography exams.