Mobile mammography screening saved her life
DALLAS – Oct. 30, 2017 – Heather Ashby almost skipped her annual mammography appointment.
For several years, she’d taken advantage of annual visits of UT Southwestern’s Mobile Mammography Unit to her workplace.
She was busy. There was no history of breast cancer in her family. And she’d been fine every previous year.
But when her cell buzzed reminding her of the missed appointment and offering a friendly nudge, she relented, made the time, and got the screening at the mobile unit.
A few days later – just two days before she was scheduled to take off for vacation to Greece – she opened the letter with the results: abnormal finding.
She contacted the Harold C. Simmons Comprehensive Cancer Center at UT Southwestern for further testing the next day and after returning from her tour of Greece, she had a lumpectomy.
“I have an excellent prognosis because of the early detection,” said Mrs. Ashby. “Truly, the mobile mammography unit saved my life.”
The mobile unit, which has much of the same machinery that’s in the Simmons Cancer Center, is an important outreach tool to make annual screening easier, which can be a lifesaver by detecting cancer earlier when it’s easier to treat, said Dr. Phil Evans, a UT Southwestern diagnostic radiologist who directs UT Southwestern’s Center for Breast Care.
UTSW Mobile Mammography Unit
- Waiting area/Changing rooms
- Digital mammography technology
- Performed by UT Southwestern licensed mammography technologists
- UT Southwestern breast-imaging radiologists review all mammograms
Make it happen:
- Call 214-645-2518 to schedule the unit
- Bookings are minimum 8 weeks in advance
- Screens about 35 patients per day
- Individuals will register in advance for screenings
- Screening process takes about 15 minutes
“Since about 1990, the rate of breast cancer death has decreased by almost 40 percent in this country. The reason for this is because screening mammography is more common, and has gotten better,” said Dr. Evans, Professor of Radiology who holds The George and Carol Poston Professorship in Breast Cancer Research. “In many cases, we’ll find cancer in Stage 0, called ductal carcinoma in situ, which is the very earliest form of breast cancer. And ductal carcinoma in situ, if it’s treated when it’s found, has almost a 100 percent cure rate.”
The reduction in deaths from breast cancer is one of the biggest successes in medicine in recent years, said Dr. Evans, who helped pioneer development of patient-centered breast imaging, an entirely new subspecialty at the time. His vision drove the creation in 1984 of the first dedicated breast center in Texas.
Shannon Radford, Wellness Director at Presbyterian Village where Mrs. Ashby works, said they recognized how hard it can be for working women and others to make time for screening. Since initially scheduling the unit for the company’s 500-plus employees, organizers have expanded opportunities for residents as well. “When the unit is on campus and staring at you, it’s almost like, I have to do this. It’s right here. Why would I not just make an appointment?”
Mrs. Ashby, who completed her treatments in January, is deeply grateful.
“I was arrogant in thinking that breast cancer wouldn’t touch me and that I could maybe miss this appointment and get it done later,” she said. “I will forever be telling people how important it is to get your mammogram every year. Women need to know that. Our mothers need to know that. Our daughters need to know that.”
About UT Southwestern Medical Center
UT Southwestern, one of the premier academic medical centers in the nation, integrates pioneering biomedical research with exceptional clinical care and education. The institution’s faculty has received six Nobel Prizes, and includes 22 members of the National Academy of Sciences, 18 members of the National Academy of Medicine, and 14 Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigators. The faculty of more than 2,700 is responsible for groundbreaking medical advances and is committed to translating science-driven research quickly to new clinical treatments. UT Southwestern physicians provide care in about 80 specialties to more than 100,000 hospitalized patients, 600,000 emergency room cases, and oversee approximately 2.2 million outpatient visits a year.
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