Impact of Digital Mammography on Cancer Detection and Recall Rates

Published today in the journal of Radiology: In a large scale study of 11.3 million screening episodes in the English National Health Service Breast Cancer Screening Program, the overall cancer detection rate was 14 percent greater with digital mammography, with substantially higher detection of grade 1 and grade 2 invasive cancers—early-stage cancers that could advance to life-threatening disease if not detected and treated early enough.

Aiming for Quality: Tips for Achieving Optimal Imaging in a Suboptimal World, Part 1

As National Radiologic Technology Week (NRTW)® comes to an end, we want to remind you that it celebrates the important role medical imaging and radiation therapy professionals play in patient care and health care safety. SBI recently recognized the contribution of one of their technologist members, who also happens to be one of our consultants here at Mammography Educators, Dawn Derenburger, RTRM!

In the first in a two-part series, Dawn Derenburger, RT(R)(M) looks at how to achieve optimal imaging in a suboptimal world in the latest issue of their quarterly newsletter, SBI News.


National Radiologic Technology Week

Today, and every day, we recognize and honor all the fabulous technologists out there for National Radiologic Technology Week! Without you, none of us could continue the important work that we do in the field of breast imaging. We thank you for your devotion to your patients and your daily work to save lives. Cheers to YOU!

My First Breast Cancer Walk As A Survivor

This past weekend I was in Cedar Rapids, Iowa to give some lectures at their Annual Breast Cancer Conference. This has always been a special conference and affiliation for me for several reasons. First off, I get to visit my favorite Aunt Marge, Uncle Bob, my cousin Bill and his lovely wife Amy.  Some of my favorite childhood memories were made on trips to see these special and beloved relatives and that has not changed over several decades. Cedar Rapids is also special in that my parents met at Coe College located there. Finally, I have had the great privilege of working with Dr. Arnold Honick, who is a dedicated and compassionate Radiologist who has always supported his staff of really great techs. We did a Train-the-Trainer program for their group (RCI) whose practice reads for facilities throughout the state and he told me, this weekend, that they continue to see an improvement in image quality due to their application of standardized positioning techniques they have implemented and sustained since the training.
On the day of conference, they told me that their 28th annual community Breast Cancer Walk ‘Especially For You,’ co-founded by Mercy Hospital and General Mills was being held that weekend. This past February, I spent six days in Mercy Hospital receiving intensive care following a very scary and dangerous neutropenic fever episode. I believe their excellent care and compassion helped to save my life, so I immediately wanted to help support this cause. This would be my first Breast Cancer Walk as a Survivor.
I went with several other of the techs that I know there, who have become friends over the years: Janette, Wendy and Andrea, plus a gaggle of kids and other relatives and friends. As RCI was a major donor and supporter of the Walk, Janette was able to get VIP passes. It was a rainy day so we got up close parking and a wonderful breakfast, which was served on the top floor of the hospital.  We all had on our special event T-shirts and survivors got a ‘buff’ which could be worn as a head band or scarf. On my ‘Race Tag’ which contained our ID numbers (to track the fastest runners, which was of no use to me… haha).  But I wrote on it: “I am walking for: Joan, Sally, Karen, Anita, Kim, Kathy, Sue, Rhonda, Marcia…”  I ran out of room; a sobering thought.

I then joined the other (hundreds) of survivors for a special picture which was taken surrounding a pink firetruck. [photo at top]  I grabbed my friend, Aunt Marie, who I met earlier and we tried to climb up to the top of truck; encouraged and assisted by the others who had already made it up. Everyone was laughing, smiling and cheering as our pictures were taken by a photographer posted high above on a crane. It was truly a celebration and I felt an wave of emotion as I stood and cheered with my new ‘sisterhood’. Although it was lightly raining, it did not ‘dampen’ anyone’s enthusiasm!  We all walked, talked and hugged the entire time. It was truly a special occasion filled with many emotions: pride, strength, empathy, encouragement, and joy. We were celebrating the lives of those who many have lost their battle with breast cancer, but are still beloved and remembered; for those of us who have beaten breast cancer and those who will be diagnosed and cured.

There are many such walks going on across the country this month and I encourage you participate.  If you can donate money that goes to assisting breast cancer research, detection and treatment, do so. But nothing is so powerful and moving as walking together with the thousands of survivors, patients, friends, family and strangers who join hands and walk to support this most important cause.  It is experiences like this that feed your heart and soul. It is your/our participation that truly gives hope to those of us who have fought breast cancer and to those who will.

Hope is truly the most precious of gifts.

Louise Miller

A Special thank you to Especially for You® Race Against Breast Cancer for providing the photographs.

From Educator to Patient: My Breast Cancer Experience

Hello Friends,

Six months after my breast cancer diagnosis, and I am cancer free! It seems like the time has zoomed right by since I got the call (or actually a text from my best buddy at the Breast Center) that there was “a suspicious finding on your mammogram.”  There were biopsies, MRIs, more mammograms, a zillion doctor’s appointments (driving 120 miles roundtrip for each one and they were NEVER on time!), 16 rounds of chemo, including 4 of the dreaded “Red Devil”, which literally wiped me out! All while working, traveling, going bald, ingesting numerous medications, experiencing fatigue, and so many highs and lows, which included a whole lot of crabbiness, just ask my daughter!

But, I am, at last, cancer free!

No one ever thinks they are going to be the 1 in 8 women that gets breast cancer; I definitely didn’t think it could or would be me. After all, I had spent 30+ years educating and fighting for mammography technologists and their need and desire for consistent and reproducible positioning standards. I would certainly be blessed by some sort of invisible halo that would protect me from such a fate. But no, breast cancer does not play favorites.

I can say that now, I actually feel ‘blessed’ by this odd twist of fate, as it has given me a new perspective on patient care. It has also inspired my resolve to ensure that each and every patient gets the best mammogram possible. I know that each of you, my colleagues and friends, feel the same. So I hope you will join me on my journey, through these blog posts and find some useful and pertinent information that can help us, individually and collectively, reach that goal of excellence.

Louise Miller

Louise Miller Appointed Consumer Representative

In July 2017, Louise Miller was appointed Consumer Representative for the National Mammography Quality Assurance Advisory Committee. This is a prestigious role where she will be acting as a patient advocate for women all across the U.S. She will be advising on developing appropriate quality standards and regulations for mammography facilities. Louise was chosen by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in their ongoing effort to recruit qualified experts.

Mammography Educators partners with Volpara Solutions

Mammography Educators partners with Volpara Solutions

We are excited to announce our partnership with Volpara Solutions. They, like us, are dedicated to improving the quality of breast imaging. By integrating our videos that showcase patient positioning and compression techniques into their software, together we can significantly improve image quality. We are confident that this partnership will further aid in implementing standardized positioning techniques for technologists worldwide!

Train-the-Trainer Program Helps Mammography Technologists Improve Imaging

We invite you to read the article titled “Picture perfect: Training helps mammography techs improve imaging” featured in the Billings Gazette concerning our Train-the-Trainer program. The techs at the hospital underwent our program, and as the article notes, Dr. Tara Bowman, a breast radiologist at Billings Clinic, says that she’s already seen a measurable difference in mammography results and image quality thanks to the standardized methods the techs have learned from Louise Miller! This is excellent news!


Mammography Educators Presents At The FDA/MQSA Meeting

I am traveling to Washington DC next week to make a presentation to the FDA/MQSA oversight committee. I will represent all my fellow mammography technologists in our effort to obtain the support we need to improve positioning and thus provide the best quality mammograms possible for women throughout the USA. My presentation will provide data that shows that technologists need access to training methods that are consistent, reproducible and ergonomically sound. Such training improves image quality by up to 50%.

If you live in the DC area, please come to lend your support! Meeting details are below. If I can travel from Hawaii to DC and back in 3 days to give a 5-minute presentation (yep, that’s my time limit) you can make it too! As the committee only meets every 1-2 year, this is urgent. Since the FDA report came out last April about poor positioning we need to make a stand on the importance of proper positioning training. I replied to the statement in an article published by the SBI newsletter but we obviously need to do more.

Thanks in advance for your support,

Louise Miller

Click here for Meeting Details

FDA Report

“A Technologist’s Perspective of the FDA Report ‘Poor Positioning Responsible for Most Clinical Image Deficiencies, Failures’” – SBI Newsletter