SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska

KGH Installs New CAD System For Early Breast Cancer Detection
Studies show that the Use of CAD could result in earlier detection of up to 23.4 percent of the cancers currently detected using mammography


January 31, 2006

Ketchikan, Alaska - This year, approximately 200,000 women in the United States will be diagnosed with invasive breast cancer and studies show that up to 23.4 percent of breast cancer could be detected earlier. Recently Ketchikan General Hospital (KGH) acquired a Computer-Aided Detection (CAD) system for use in breast cancer screening to assist radiologists by providing "a second set of eyes" during mammograms.

jpg Murkowski and CAD System

Karen Wolfred, Foundation Manager (right) shows the Murkowskis the schematic design for the new Women's Diagnostic Imaging Suite
Photo courtesy KGH

jpg Murkowski CAD study

Back row Patrick Branco, CEO; Scott Smith, Diagnostic Imaging Manager' Governor Frank Murkowski.
Seated, First Lady Nancy Murkowski
examines a CAD study.
Photo courtesy KGH

"Early diagnosis is the key to surviving breast cancer, and mammography screening with the benefit of the CAD system could prevent thousands of breast cancer deaths each year in the United States," said Deborah Aaron, KGH surgeon "Regular screening mammograms are the best way to detect breast cancer early-and early is when it is easiest to treat, "she said.

The hospital chose the ImageChecker System from R2 Technology, which is the first U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) approved CAD system for use with screening and diagnostic, as well as digital mammography. Studies show use of the CAD system could result in earlier detection of up to 23.4 percent of the cancers currently detected with screening mammography in those women who had a prior screening mammogram nine-24 months earlier.

"Here at KGH we do between 2000 and 3000 mammograms per year, and each year we find five to ten cancers. According to the above national statistics, we can expect to find one - to two additional cancers per year, and find them earlier - in Stage I rather than in stage IV or V," stated Scott Smith, Manager of the Diagnostic Imaging Department at KGH. Smith has been working closely with the Foundation to plan for and carry out this project.

The system is currently used in conjunction with the hospital's film-based mammography. After digitizing a film mammogram, CAD's specialized processing software system acts like a "spellchecker", performing over one billion calculations per film. It analyzes the image and draws the radiologist's attention to suspicious features that may be indicative of cancer. The radiologist reviews the entire mammogram first and then activates the CAD monitor to see if any areas have been highlighted for additional review. If an image is marked, the radiologist goes back to the original mammogram to review this area of the image in more detail.

"Our fight against breast cancer is enhanced by the use of CAD," Patrick Branco, hospital CEO. "This system will allow us to provide our patients the benefits of early detection and improve overall management and treatment."

According to the National Institute of Health (NIH), if breast cancer is identified early (Stage 0 or I) when it is confined to the duct or local area of the breast, the patient's chances for survival are dramatically higher. The five-year survival rate for breast cancer patients decreases from approximately 95 percent for cancers detected and treated at an early stage, to 36 percent for Stage III cancers (where the cancer has spread to surrounding tissue) to just 7 percent for late stage cancers that have spread to distant organs.

The CAD system is one component of the Women's Diagnostic Imaging Suite (WDIS), which is the hospital's vision for more streamlined, private and comfortable care for women undergoing screenings and diagnostic imaging. The total cost to create this suite is $450,000. KGH included $200,000 of this total in its fiscal year 2006 budget; the newly formed KGH Foundation launched its first campaign to raise the additional $250,000. Now halfway through the campaign, only $61,031 remains to be raised. "With such an encouraging early response to our campaign, we were able to purchase this component of the suite so we can begin using CAD on every screening mammogram done at KGH", stated Karen Wolfred, Foundation Manager.

Governor and First Lady Nancy Murkowski stopped by KGH recently for a look at the CAD system. Nancy Murkowski's, one of the original founders of the Breast Cancer Detection Center of Alaska, contributed $25,000 to the Women's Diagnostic Imaging Suite during the kickoff of the Waterfall Foundation fishing tournament last summer.


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