ARH promotes breast cancer awareness with system-wide “pink ribbon” cuttings for new digital mammography equipment


May 20, 2011 – October’s National Breast Cancer Awareness Month observance might be months away, but today hospitals throughout the Appalachian Regional Healthcare (ARH) system stressed the year-round importance of early detection of breast cancer through regular screening mammograms by holding simultaneous “pink ribbon” cutting ceremonies for new digital mammography equipment that has been installed at all locations.

Celebrations at each location followed the ribbon cutting and featured testimonials from breast cancer survivors as well as comparisons of a regular film mammogram to the images of the digital mammography equipment.

Digital mammography, also called full-field digital mammography (FFDM), is a mammography system in which the X-ray film is replaced by solid-state detectors that convert X-rays into electrical signals. These detectors are similar to those found in digital cameras. The electrical signals are used to produce images of the breast that can be seen on a computer screen or printed on special film similar to conventional mammograms. From the patient’s point of view, having a digital mammogram is essentially the same as having a conventional film screen mammogram.

Interpreting the results of digital mammograms is faster than film mammograms, because there is no film to develop. The image can be sent immediately to the radiologist for viewing. If the image is unclear, you will be told about it right away, and the image can be retaken. This may help reduce mammogram callbacks, and stress on patients.

Breast cancer often makes itself known in its early stages, when there’s a good chance for a cure. Regular breast screening exams are the number-one way to reduce the risk of dying from breast cancer.

All women can get breast cancer – even those with no family history of the disease. Women can help take control of their breast health by following the American Cancer Society’s breast cancer screening guidelines:

Age 40 and over
• Mammogram and clinical breast exam by a healthcare professional yearly.
• Perform monthly breast self-exams.
Age 20s and 30s
• Clinical breast exam by a healthcare professional every three years.
• Perform monthly breast self-exams
Any woman who thinks she might be at high risk for breast cancer, should talk with her doctor about her history and what options are right for her.

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Appalachian Regional Healthcare (ARH) is a not-for-profit health system serving 350,000 residents across Eastern Kentucky and Southern West Virginia. Operating nine hospitals, multi-specialty physician practices, home health agencies, HomeCare Stores and retail pharmacies, ARH is the largest provider of care and single largest employer in southeastern Kentucky and the third largest private employer in southern West Virginia.

The ARH system employs more than 4,700 employees and has a network of more than 600 active and courtesy medical staff members representing various specialties. Firmly committed to its mission of improving the health and promoting the well-being of all people in Eastern Kentucky and Southern West Virginia, in the past 12 months alone, ARH provided more than $120 million in uncompensated care for the uninsured and underinsured.

Consistently recognized for its medical excellence, the ARH system was one of two Kentucky health systems to be named earlier this year to the 2011 SDI IHN 100 listing of the most highly integrated healthcare networks in the nation, and was selected as the 2010 Outstanding Rural Health Organization in the nation by the National Rural Health Association (NRHA). Most recently, the Harlan ARH Hospital was named one of the nation’s 100 Top Hospitals® by Thomson Reuters, a leading provider of information and solutions to improve the cost and quality of healthcare.

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