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The premier resource for hospital professionals from Relias Media, the trusted source for healthcare information and continuing education.

Hospital president buys the technology that diagnoses her cancer

Debra Flores Debra Flores

When you purchase technology, you know it will benefit your patients and perhaps your staff. You probably don’t expect to personally benefit from the technology, but that’s exactly what happened to Debra Flores, president of Sentara CarePlex Hospital in Hampton, VA.

Flores had scraped together money from her hospital’s budget to purchase the facility’s first 3D mammography device. Her hospital was piloting this new technology for the Sentara Cancer Network. A few months after the purchase, she had her annual mammogram at the Dorothy G. Hoefer Comprehensive Breast Center. That afternoon, one of the center’s radiologists saw cancer in both of Flores’ breast, including a tiny tumor found to be at Stage 0. Who even knew there was a stage 0?

“Without 3D mammography, that second tumor might have been missed,” said Flores. “In retrospect, my decision to purchase Sentara’s first 3D mammography device was providential.”

Providential? We agree. Flores had a lumpectomy followed by six weeks of daily radiation. She’s now cancer-free, and she has a mission: Encourage women to take responsibility for their bodies and demand 3D mammography. “This technology is a game changer,” Flores said. “Women need to take advantage of it.”

Sentara Cancer Network has installed 10 3D mammography machines in Virginia. The benefits of 3D mammography are that it identifies smaller tumors at earlier stages than traditional digital mammography and it reduces callbacks for biopsies, according to Sentara Healthcare. The reason? Its ability to differentiate between benign masses and cancerous tumors, even when breast tissue is dense, the health system says.

The numbers back up these statements. In the network’s study of 1,400 breast cancers diagnosed through 3D technology, the following successes were revealed:

  • 53% increase in diagnosis of invasive cancers;
  • 35% increase in diagnosis of cancers;
  • 38% reduction in call backs;
  • 11% reduction in biopsies.
The Sentara Cancer Network performed almost 115,000 mammograms last year and diagnosed almost 1,400 breast cancers. Sentara Cancer Network is designing a 3D mammography study to assess the impact of 3D versus 2D mammography on breast health and clinical outcomes. I’ll be anxious to hear the results of that study. In the meantime, ask yourself: Should I find the money in my budget for this technology? Can I afford to put it off? Like scheduling a mammography, making a decision now can be a game-changer for your facility, and perhaps for you and your loved ones as well.