The charity is pleased to be able to report that it has funded another piece of technologically advanced equipment to bring the unit in Kent to the forefront of breast cancer treatment.
Breast Cancer Kent fundraised for 18 months to buy a 3-D Tomosynthesis stereo-tactic prone table. The Breast Unit at Maidstone Hospital thus becomes the only Unit in Kent to have this equipment, which was installed in June 2020.
It follows on from the purchase of a 3-D tomosynthesis mammogram machine a few years ago. Together with the new mammography unit, it means that we can provide modern state of the art diagnostics for breast cancer patients in Kent.
3-D mammography (tomosynthesis) improves the diagnostic rate of breast cancer, especially for younger women or those with dense breasts (it’s harder to see the cancer).
Now that we have the biopsy equipment, we can also take samples of the cancer when it is found by tomosynthesis (sometimes you can’t see the cancer with a normal mammogram).
The new biopsy equipment is also much quicker, more comfortable for patients and easier for staff to use.
So, what exactly does this new equipment do and how does it help patients?
Most of the time breast cancer is seen both on a mammogram (X-ray) and an ultrasound, but sometimes it can only be seen on a mammogram. To make a diagnosis of breast cancer, a needle biopsy of the tumour needs to be performed so that it can be looked at by a pathologist. This can usually be done with ultrasound, but, if the cancer can only be seen on the mammogram, the biopsy needs to be guided by X-ray. In addition, some patients may have a cancer that can be felt and seen on the ultrasound but on the mammogram it looks like another area of the breast that may have some cancerous changes. This then also needs to be biopsied.
Other patients may have some changes seen on the mammogram that are not obviously breast cancer, but a needle biopsy is needed to make sure that the changes are benign (non-cancerous).
What is different about this type of mammogram?
X-ray (mammogram) guided biopsy of the breast has been available for many years, however this new equipment is much more accurate than anything we have had before. A recent advance in mammography, called ‘tomosynthesis’, means that a 3 dimensional (3-D) picture of the breast can now be made. This allows very small cancers to be detected that are not always seen on a standard 2-D mammogram. Young women or women with dense breasts have a higher risk of their cancers not being seen on conventional 2-D mammograms. This new equipment allows a biopsy to be taken from a cancer or abnormality that is only seen on the 3-D mammogram pictures.
Every donation, however small or large, when combined together at Breast Cancer Kent means that equipment like this can help hundreds of patients in Kent every year. Costing £200,000 the equipment is based in the Peggy Wood Breast Unit at Maidstone Hospital. Patients from other Kent hospitals can be referred in to have this special biopsy if needed. It’s a great resource for Kent to have at its disposal.