In Santiago, Chile, the Breast Imaging Center of the Metropolitan Region Reinelda Pereira Plaza is advancing the diagnosis and treatment of breast cancer – thanks to new digital mammography technology from Planmed.
Breast cancer is the leading cause of death among women in Chile. According to estimates by the country's Ministry of Health, as many as one in eight Chilean women are diagnosed with the disease, resulting in an estimated 4,200 new patients every year.
At the same time, breast cancer also has a high survival rate with a 95% chance of recovery – if diagnosed on time. To ensure early detection it is essential to not only self-examine, but also have regular mammograms. In Chile, it is recommended for women to have a mammogram once a year from the age of 40 or, in the case of a family history of breast cancer, from the age of 35.
These screenings make up the bulk of the work at the Breast Imaging Center of the Metropolitan Region Reinelda Pereira Plaza. The imaging center was established in 2006 in the facilities of the Hospital Barros Luco in Santiago, the capital city of Chile. In the beginning, the equipment consisted of three analog mammography units, an ultrasound and a biopsy table. A few years later, however, the clinic decided to test the digital waters with the Planmed Nuance™ Excel digital mammography unit.
Planmed is a Finnish manufacturer of advanced imaging equipment for mammography and orthopedic imaging part of Planmeca Group. In 2015, the company launched Planmed Clarity™ 3D, a new mammography unit incorporating digital breast tomosynthesis technology. The technology, also known as DBT, offers greater visibility which facilitates the interpretation of mammograms especially in patients with dense breast tissue. The better and faster diagnosis increases the chances of early detection and treatment in a way which can significantly improve patient recovery.
On the back of this knowledge, last year the Breast Imaging Center in Santiago went completely digital by acquiring both the Planmed Clarity™ 2D digital mammography unit and Planmed Clarity 3D digital breast tomosynthesis system. According to Nora Gálvez, Director of the Breast Imaging Center of the Metropolitan Region, the high image quality offered by the new units has significantly improved the clinic’s diagnostic capabilities.
"With digital mammography we have managed to improve image quality, which has enabled us to better diagnose the pathologies of the breast. Adding tomosynthesis to our capabilities means we are able to solve a greater number of cases without resorting to resonance," says Galvez. "This allows for better diagnosis of our patients and achieves results in smaller lesions as well."
Incorporating DBT technology in digital mammography produces high quality images of the breast tissue which facilitates diagnosis and reduces the need for both surgery and invasive procedures. DBT generates a three-dimensional image of the breast which enables spotting even smaller lesions which cannot be observed using conventional methods.
The Reinelda Pereira Plaza Breast Imaging Center is responsible for screening women from two important areas of the Metropolitan Region, the south and the west. As a result, the center performs more than 24,000 annual mammograms and 1,200 stereotactic biopsies every year. Of these approximately 20% tend to result in a breast cancer diagnosis.
Meanwhile, nearly a fourth of the population of Chile lives in Santiago. As the care offered by the clinic is free and extends to two of the most densely populated areas in the city, the new technology has come to benefit thousands of patients in the public system in a way which marks a significant contribution to public health in the entire country.
Still, for Director Gálvez, there remains work to be done. In order to further combat the high prevalence of breast cancer in the country, the center would like to increase the daily patient volume from 90 to 120 by acquiring of a fourth digital mammography unit.
Thanks to modern technology like Planmed’s digital equipment, health centers today can screen for breast cancer even more carefully and efficiently. Early detection and treatment remain crucial in the fight against the deadly disease and improving public health – both in Chile and worldwide.
This article has been edited from Diagnóstico Journal May 2017.