Doctors at the University of Kansas Hospital have a new tool in the fight against breast cancer, but it's the same technology that has been helping doctors in other areas improve diagnoses for years... magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).
For the past several months Dr. William Smith and Dr. Marc Inciardi, dedicated breast radiologists in the hospital's breast imaging center, have been working with new software for the MRI machine designed for breast cancer patients. Smith said he is amazed in the difference it makes.
"We are now realizing just how bad we've been," Smith said. "It's hard to believe we can do this, like we are looking with a whole different set of sensors."
Smith said the process is simple. When breast cancer is diagnosed, an MRI can be utilized to further determine the size and scope of the cancer.
"It's about 280 percent more accurate than ultrasound and mammography combined," Smith said. "We are finding many cases where with the traditional means we would have only been removing a part of the cancer. We can't see at the millimeter level, but with this tool we can."
The MRI is the latest tool in the breast cancer fighting arsenal at the University of Kansas Hospital. In the breast center, patients can go from a mammogram to sonogram and even a biopsy during an appointment. The MRI is not usually performed the same day, but when ordered has proven a tremendous benefit to patients.
Currently, an MRI mammogram is paid for patients with Medicare and some private insurance policies. Smith warned it is important for patients to check with their insurance company before going though the procedure because it is much more expensive than the normal checks. But Smith also said it is worth the price.
"If someone I loved was fighting breast cancer, I would demand this imaging," Smith said.