Breast Cancer: Mammograms Save Lives

When a routine mammogram last year at Simi Valley Hospital’s Nancy Reagan Breast Center revealed suspicious-looking tissue, Tami Hodge was shocked. With no family history and no signs of a lump after years of following cancer detection guidelines, Hodge was blindsided by the disease.

“I was devastated and frightened,” the 46-year-old Simi Valley resident said. “My husband and I are raising two teenage boys and a daughter, so that news really had an impact on me.”

Further diagnostic tests revealed that Hodge had stage-one breast cancer. However, following successful surgery, she has returned to painting and gardening, as well as managing her busy family. She is also preparing to walk in Simi Valley’s Relay for Life, which raises funds for the American Cancer Society.

After experiencing a disease she thought she would never have to face, Hodge now encourages all women to make time for an annual mammogram.

“A mammogram can actually reveal cancer several years before a physical exam can detect it,” Hodge said, “and early detection offers the best hope for a positive outcome. This is important information to share with friends.”

Extraordinary Care

Hodge views her extremely positive experience at Simi Valley Hospital’s Nancy Reagan Breast Center as one of the high points of the past several months.

“The care started from the time I walked in the door,” she said. “The admitting people were terrific. My appointments were made as quickly as possible, and everything about my procedure was explained. Everyone there was extraordinarily kind. They are very compassionate people.”

Mammography Goes Digital

Simi Valley Hospital has installed a $1.7 million digital diagnostic imaging system that will revolutionize mammography at the Nancy Reagan Breast Center, as well as X-ray and other imaging services at the hospital. The two components of the system are computerized radiology (CR) and a picture archive computer system (PACS).

CR completely eliminates the need to use film to capture an image by instead recording the image digitally. The digital images are easily uploaded into the second component of the system, PACS.

The advantages of PACS are numerous: Images can be categorized and retrieved more quickly than their film-based counterparts; manipulated digitally—lightened, darkened, moved around and so forth; easily copied to a CD or other portable format; and viewed anywhere in the world by an authorized caregiver who has Internet access and the correct passwords.

Grant Helps Local Women

The National Breast Cancer Foundation has granted $50,000 to the Nancy Reagan Breast Center to provide mammograms for women who cannot afford regular screenings.

“We’re very excited to receive this money, which will help us serve many women in the area and share the breast center’s mission throughout Simi Valley and the rest of Ventura County,” said Monica Berlin, administrative director of diagnostic imaging at Simi Valley Hospital. “We are currently developing strategies for community partnerships that will help us connect with the women who qualify for these mammogram services.

Fall 2007