Henrico Doctors’ Hospital first to carry contrast dye mammograms in central Virginia
The new technology makes hard to find breast cancers easily detectible
RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - Top-of-the-line technology at the Sarah Cannon Cancer Institute is making hard-to-find cancers easily detectable.
HCA Virginia is the first to house the new technology in central Virginia, giving patients a greater chance at survival.
“To be honest with you, everything has kind of been a blur,” Heather Van Cleave said, still stunned by the news she got just two weeks ago.
“It was one of those things that I literally was getting out of the shower, putting lotion on, and going, ‘this doesn’t feel right,” she said.
The former Miss Virginia went to get a mammogram at the Sarah Cannon Cancer Institute at Henrico Doctors’ Hospital.
“When they called me back and said they found something, [and] that I need to come back in. I knew that something wasn’t right,” she said.
It was cancer.
Doctors found a large mass in her breast using contrast-enhanced mammography, also known as CEM, but that wasn’t all they found.
“The contrast dye actually helped find some of the cancer that had spread to my lymph nodes,” Van Cleave said.
“It’s really important because it can see things that may not be visible on a traditional mammogram or even 3D mammogram,” Dr. Ryan Gabriel said.
Dr. Gabriel is one of Van Cleave’s doctors. He said this type of mammogram is especially helpful to patients with dense breast tissue.
“The sensitivity for us to find a cancer that’s there decreases almost to about a 50/50 chance if you’re extremely dense,” Dr. Gabriel said.
Dr. Gabriel told Van Cleave her best option was to get a mastectomy and start chemotherapy.
Her story, she hopes, will encourage others to get screened.
“It’s really just having the mindset of fight over fear and being an overcomer of so many other things I’ve gone through in life - this is just another part of my story,” Van Cleave said.
Contrast dye mammograms aren’t usually considered standard for breast cancer screenings. Dr. Gabriel said your doctor would likely recommend a contrast dye screening based on their initial findings, but it is an option if you prefer it.
Dr. Gabriel said women should start getting mammograms at 40 years old and shouldn’t put off annual screenings.
He also recommends patients check themselves once a month.
“Some women have lumpy breast tissue, and they might feel a new lump, and that’s important because if you notice a change, you should talk to your doctor,” Dr. Gabriel said.
He said their goal is to find cancer early so patients can have an even greater chance at survival.
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