CMH offers new breast imaging system

HUDSON–With any form of cancer, early detection can make a difference.

Which is why Columbia Memorial Health’s acquisition of 3D mammography technology for its Catskill and Hudson campuses is being called a “game-changer.”

The leading edge imaging technology generates a three-dimensional picture of the breast, giving providers a more complete view of tissue compared to conventional two-dimensional mammogram images.

Studies have found 3D mammography, also known as digital breast tomosynthesis or DBT, to be more effective than conventional mammography in identifying cancers earlier, which can lead to more effective and less aggressive treatments that yield better outcomes for patients. It is particularly effective for women who have more dense breast tissue, and has been found to reduce the number of false positives.

A release from CMH says that dense breast tissue can only be determined by a mammogram. A woman can’t simply know this information by touch: “You cannot feel dense tissue,” a hospital spokesperson says. Radiologists report breast tissue density according to the Breast Imaging Reporting and Data System (BI-RADS). The use of 3D mammography technology replaces traditional (2D) mammography and supplemental imaging with ultrasound or breast MRI, which is often performed for women with dense breast tissue.

Columbia Memorial Health technician Lauren Howard helps a patient access CMH’s new 3D mammography service, an imaging technology more effective than conventional mammography in identifying cancers earlier, which can lead to more effective and less aggressive treatments that yield better outcomes for patients. The service is available at CMH’s Hudson and Catskill (Greene Medical Arts) campuses. Photo contributed

“This technology is at the leading edge of medicine and is a true game-changer in the detection and treatment of breast cancer,” Tariq Gill, M.D., chief of medical imaging at CMH, said in the release. “We believe this technology absolutely will save lives through earlier detection.”

More than 100 women from Columbia and Greene counties are diagnosed with breast cancer each year and earlier detection will allow CMH to give cancer patients “earlier access to treatment options that are most effective and best suited to their needs,” Dr. Gill said.

CMH performs approximately 10,000 mammograms annually across three locations.

The acquisition of the 3D technology was made possible in part through the generosity of community members who donated to the Columbia-Greene Hospital Foundation, which provided $600,000 for this initiative.

The National Cancer Institute reports on its website,, that, “…it has not yet been determined conclusively whether it is superior to 2D mammography at identifying early cancers and avoiding false-positive results.” But that question could be answered by the NCI’s “large-scale randomized breast screening trial… comparing 3D mammography with 2D mammography. The Tomosynthesis Mammography Imaging Screening Trial (TMIST) is comparing the number of advanced cancers detected in women screened for 4 years with DBT with that detected in women screened with standard digital mammography.”

Patti Matheney, chair of the Columbia-Greene Hospital Foundation, said: “We see our donors as real heroes who make a profound difference in the lives of others. This lifesaving project is a great example of the power of their generosity and thoughtfulness. We are so very grateful.”

Patients are encouraged to ask their providers if 3D mammography is right for them. Any physician can refer their patients to CMH for 3D mammography which is generally covered by insurance.

The exam experience is very much the same as the traditional mammogram. It is performed on the same type of mammography equipment and takes about the same amount of time. According to a hospital spokesperson, “There is a slight increase in radiation exposure when 3D imaging is done in combination with standard 2D imaging, however the additional 3D imaging reduces the need for follow-up imaging, detects more cancers than standard imaging alone and increases breast cancer detection in dense breast tissue.”

Columbia Memorial Health has plans to acquire more specialized cancer treatment equipment. “We are planning to complete our breast imaging services with the addition of 3D Stereotactic breast biopsy equipment that will allow women to undergo a minimally invasive procedure that targets and samples breast abnormalities seen on screening mammography,” the spokesperson said. “This biopsy technique takes 15 to 20 minutes, requires no preparation and has a quick recovery time.”

CMH ball raises funds for 3D breast biopsy tech

HUDSON–Columbia Memorial Health will conduct a special auction at its 31st Annual Hospital Ball, with proceeds earmarked for the purchase of innovative 3D breast biopsy technology for CMH’s Women’s Health Services. The Hospital Ball “Le Cirque,” hosted by the Columbia-Greene Hospital Foundation (C-GHF), will be held June 1 at the Point in Catskill.

Columbia Memorial acquired 3D mammography technology earlier this year through a donation from the C-GHF. Currently available in both Hudson and Catskill, the technology provides images that make it possible to identify early breast cancer abnormalities within a three dimensional plane. Suspicious abnormalities identified by mammography are subsequently biopsied, ideally with a minimally invasive technique.

Proceeds from the Ball’s special auction will be used to acquire an advanced 3-D breast biopsy system that will allow physicians to precisely sample the abnormalities identified by 3D mammograms. CMH said in a press release that the stereotactic 3D biopsy system, known as Affirm, will provide precise targeting of a mammographic abnormality in a safer, accurate and more comfortable environment for the patient. CMH says this system will help save lives by yielding earlier and more accurate detection of breast cancer.

Further augmenting CMH’s mammography service is the radiology and pathology expertise available at CMH through its affiliation with Albany Med. The Albany Med and CMH radiology and pathology services are fully integrated, which means that mammograms and all imaging and diagnostic studies are interpreted by the region’s leading experts.

“The generosity and thoughtfulness of our donors made CMH’s 3D mammography service a reality,” C-GHF Chairwoman Patti Matheney said in the release. “We now have an incredible opportunity to build on our success in fighting breast cancer right here in Columbia and Greene counties. You can literally be a lifesaver by donating to this year’s Ball and special auction.”

Columbia Memorial Health surgeon Rakel Astorga, M.D., said in the release: “The clinical implications of this technology are profound. Pairing our existing 3D mammography with advanced 3D biopsy capabilities will enable far more precise location and sampling of tissue, minimizing the impact on surrounding tissue and yielding a better outcome for our patients.”

CMH President and CEO Jay P. Cahalan noted “the unique bond we have established with our patients, employees and community members. We are very grateful for all of their support.”

Ball attendees, and those unable to attend, can pre-bid on the auction item by contacting Gina Orlando, Columbia-Greene Hospital Foundation, at 518 828-8239 or at .

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