Hospital adds 3-D mammography machine

A large group of donors and medical health professionals combined their efforts to fund the new mammography machine.

Healthcare in the Cayman Islands has taken a significant step forward with the acquisition of a new mammography machine, located at the Cayman Islands Hospital.

The machine, known as the Selenia Dimensions 3-D Mammography System, cost more than $500,000 and allows doctors to capture contoured images in fine detail. Multiple studies have indicated that 3-D imaging allows a 10 to 30 percent increase in cancer detection over the old technology.

The new machine went into service May 23, and medical professionals hope it will aid in the early detection of cancer. The Cayman Islands Hospital conducted more than 16,000 mammograms with the old machine and diagnosed nearly 800 cases of cancer between October of 2006 and April of 2018.

“Through the support of our partners, we continue to acquire state-of-the-art equipment to provide better clinical diagnosis and patient outcomes,” said Dr. Elaine Bogle-Taylor. “This is another example of the outstanding partnership forged over many years between the Health Services Authority and the Cancer Society in support of our commitment to meeting the healthcare services of our community.”

The first mammography machine arrived at Cayman Islands Hospital in 2006 thanks to a fund drive sponsored by a number of local charities. An early pioneer, Women Helping Women, was founded in 1982, and four years later, it evolved into an entity called the Cancer Support Group.

That charity in turn developed into the Cayman Islands Cancer Society in 1988. Women routinely had to leave the island for mammograms back in the 1980s and ’90s, and a large fundraising drive was put into operation to bring the Cayman Islands Hospital its first mammography machine in 2005.

The Cayman Islands Cancer Society started the fundraising with a donation of $100,000 from a variety of events, and a total of 74 donors helped to make the purchase possible. The machine arrived in October of 2006, and the Health Services Authority set aside a percentage of fees from every mammogram it performed into a fund designed to support purchases of future technology.

That philanthropy and foresight allowed the hospital to purchase a digital microscope that allowed doctors to quickly access electronic images. Another key purchase was a suros vacuum stereotactic attachment that enabled doctors to make smaller incisions when performing biopsies.

The fund – along with contributions from The Ritz-Carlton, Jacques Scott and 100 Men Who Give a Damn – helped secure the necessary support to purchase the new machine.

“The Health Services Authority is very grateful to all those who contributed to the initiatives that led to the purchase of the previous digital mammogram machine. And we’re extremely excited about the new … mammography machine,” said Lizzette Yearwood, chief executive officer of the Health Services Authority.

“The Cancer Society and the HSA have been partners in the fight against cancer for a long time,” said Guy Manning, chairman of the Cancer Society Board of Directors. “We know the public hospital needs support to ensure high quality care accessible to all people in Cayman. We are extremely pleased to have partnered with the HSA in bringing this technology to the Cayman Islands, because it will improve breast cancer detection and provide patients who are diagnosed early with optimal outcomes.”

Physicians can access exceptionally sharp images with the new machine, which should allow them to see lesions more clearly and to cut down on the number of unnecessary biopsies they perform.

Hologic, the company that makes the machine, says it can make a highly accurate mammography scan in 3.7 seconds. Doctors can also access the results of a prior mammography scan and analyze it side-by-side with the new scan, making it easier to compare and contrast any changes.

Hologic also describes its new ergonomic design as the “FAST Paddle System,” which conforms to the natural contours of the breast for a more comfortable fit for the patient. It also provides a more even compression across the entire breast when compared to the old two-dimensional scanners.

“Breast tissue must be compressed in mammography examinations to reduce radiation dose and acquire high quality images to aid in the diagnostic process during screening, which may be uncomfortable,” said HSA radiology manager Pamela Vaughn-Duncan of the way the new system differs from the old. “For some women, the discomfort may be such that they avoid mammograms altogether.”

“The new 3-D mammogram machine is one of the most innovative technologies in breast cancer detection and the HSA is the first facility in the Cayman Islands to utilize this advanced breast cancer imaging modality,” said Dr. Delroy Jefferson, medical director of the HSA. “This is the future. When we talk about saving lives, this is just another example of how our hospitals can save the lives of women right here at home without the need for them to travel elsewhere for clinical diagnosis and care.”

Mammograms are also performed at MedLab and at CTMH/Doctors Hospital. CTMH/Doctors Hospital has performed just over 4,000 mammograms since 2015, while MedLab has conducted nearly 1,000 tests in that span.