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Computer helps radiologists

Radiologists at Baptist Health Louisville now have "an extra set of eyes" to review mammograms and detect early signs of breast cancer.

Those "eyes" belong to ImageChecker®
, a computer-aided system which double-checks mammograms for small and subtle signs of cancer. Baptist Health Louisville was the first hospital in Louisville to offer this service to patients.

This is a third tier of evaluation for all mammograms. Baptist Health Louisville's board-certified radiologists check with each other in evaluating suspicious areas on mammograms. This should give patients an additional sense of security.

ImageChecker is particularly helpful in checking dense breasts, when it can be difficult to see tiny microcalcifications.

With the new system, the radiologist reviews the mammography films, then review marked images on two display monitors. ImageChecker marks areas in the X-ray with features that may be associated with breast cancer.

Approved by the federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the device promises to help improve the accuracy of mammography reading, helping to catch breast cancer tumors earlier when they're more treatable.

The FDA estimates the device could increase a radiologist's accuracy from detecting 80 of every 100 cancers to catching 88 of 100. Those are women whose cancer might not otherwise be found until they return for next year's mammogram -- time enough for a tumor to double in size.

Early detection of breast cancer is critical to a woman's chances for survival. In the United States, for women age 15-54, breast cancer is the leading cause of cancer death. The five-year survival rate jumps to 96.8 percent when the cancer is diagnosed in the early stages.

For more information on mammography services, call the Baptist Health Information Center at (502) 897-8131.