Breast cancer

Updated 21 June 2013

A new way to test for breast cancer

Netcare Femina Radiology is the first hospital in Pretoria and the Greater Tshwane to use Hologic’s 3D technology to screen women for breast cancer.

Netcare Femina Radiology is the first hospital in Pretoria and the Greater Tshwane to use Hologic’s 3D technology to screen women for breast cancer.

The hospital took the decision to start using Hologic’s new Selenia Dimensions machine, which uses 3D technology known as tomosynthesis, as it increases the chance of detecting breast cancer by 30%, and reduces the need for further investigation by 40%, says Dr Herman Fourie of Netcare Femina Radiology.

“Breast cancer comprises 25% of cancers affecting women, with one in eight being affected by it at some point in their lives. If detected early, there is an excellent chance of recovery,” adds Dr Fourie.

The role of 3D technology

“Realising the role 3D technology could play in early detection of breast cancer and in reducing the need for further investigation, Netcare Femina Radiology decided to offer the 3D mammogram to our patients, together with a 2D mammogram (a special X-ray to detect lumps in the breast), at no extra cost,” he says. "An added benefit of the new technology is that less compression is needed and therefore the test may be completed without being painful," he observes.

Dr Fourie advises all women to examine their breasts regularly, and if they are over 40, to visit their gynaecologist annually, who will then advise them whether they need a breast ultrasound, digital breast tomosynthesis and mammography.

Looking out for the symptoms 

Symptoms of breast cancer may include swelling in the armpit, any change in the size, shape, texture, or temperature of the breast, lumps in the breast or underarm, unusual swellings, discharge etc. Should you have any of these symptoms, he recommends you visit your gynaecologist immediately.

The tomosynthesis is performed with a four-second sweep of the X-ray tube to give 1mm thin images of the breast. These fine images reduce the impact of overlapping breast tissue and allow for the detection of cancer even in dense tissue.

A further advantage of the Selena Dimension is that it uses digital technology instead of analogue, which reduces the levels of radiation exposure to patients, observes Dr Fourie.

“We take breast care seriously and pride ourselves on being at the forefront of new breast care technology,” says Netcare Femina general hospital manager, Joey Breedt.


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Ask the Expert

Breast cancer expert

Dr Gudgeon qualified in Birmingham, England, in 1968. She has more than 40 years experience in oncology, and in 1994 she founded her practice, Cape Breast Care, where she treats benign and malignant breast cancers. Dr Boeddinghaus obtained her qualification at UCT Medical School in 1994 and her MRCP in London in 1998. She has worked extensively in the field of oncology and has a special interest in the hormonal management of breast cancer. She now works with Dr Gudgeon at Cape Breast Care. Read more.

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