MC du Plessis
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), breast cancer is the most frequent cancer among women, impacting 2.1 million women each year. It also causes the greatest number of cancer-related deaths among women. In 2018, it is estimated that 627,000 women died from breast cancer – that is approximately 15% of all cancer deaths among women. South African women have a lifetime risk of 1 in 27.
“Mammography is good at finding breast cancer, especially in women ages 50 years and older. Overall, the sensitivity of mammography is about 87 per cent. This means mammography correctly identifies about 87 per cent of women who truly have breast cancer. Sensitivity is higher in women over 50 than in younger women.”
Mammograms are x-rays of the breasts are used to look for breast cancer. Breast cancer often develops as a lump (mass), calcifications (tiny deposits of calcium) or distortion of the tissue. Mammograms are very good at showing these abnormalities as different from normal background breast tissue. A very important part of mammogram evaluation is a comparison of previous and current pictures. The fact that mammograms are so sensitive in picking up breast cancers, while at the same time being minimally invasive, means that it is practical to use the examination as a cancer screening test. The key to a screening test is to do it regularly enough that very few cancers will grow between tests. In the case of breast cancer, mammograms done once yearly are optimal.
“The new Senographe Pristina mammography system, designed to make breast cancer screening more comfortable for patients, has been launched by South Africa’s National Radiology Services Incorporated (NRS) at the Netcare Waterfall City Private Hospital. An upgraded SIGNA* (*Trademark of the General Electric Company) Explorer G2 MRI, has also been launched by NRS, which will offer increased diagnostic quality, patient comfort and enable clinicians to improve workflow.
GE healthcare partnered with radiologists, technologists and most importantly, patients, to create a mammography experience that is designed to deliver higher diagnostic accuracy for the detection of breast cancer during a mammogram. Pristina is engineered by Women for Women- putting the women at the heart.
“The MRI upgrade will enable NRS Inc. to access the increased efficiency of SIGNA Explorer while the Pristina will support better health outcomes for current and future generations of women,” said Graham Maritz, General Manager, at GE Healthcare South Africa. “Through such initiatives, we are working to make a reality in South Africa, increased access to quality and efficient healthcare solutions.”
Senographe Pristina features a new ergonomic design to reduce physical strain with dedicated functionalities for easier patient positioning and comfort during the mammogram. By making patients more comfortable during the breast exam, technologists can focus on more suitable positioning, enabling a faster and smoother 3D mammogram experience for both the patient and the technologist.
Fear of the discomfort and pain experienced during the exam is the main reason patients avoid having a mammogram. As a result, breast cancer is often diagnosed at an advanced stage. According to the World Health Organisation, mammography is shown to reduce breast cancer mortality by approximately 20% in high-resource settings. Early detection saves lives, and early treatment of breast cancer allows for a very good survival rate at the same time-saving costs.”