Perhaps channeling the motto of the movie "Field of Dreams"--if you build it they will come--Pioneers Memorial Healthcare District held a breast cancer awareness event on Oct. 4 to acclimate Imperial Valley residents to the need to get tested.
"Early detection has a better prognosis," said Patty Enders, radiology technologist. "And we want to let women know about our new technology that can save lives."
The cutting-edge apparatus is the Hologic 3-dimensional mammography imaging machine.
A continually looping PowerPoint screening in the Pioneers auditorium informed audiences of its superior capabilities, while radiology staff offered to make appointments.
The 3-D utilizes digital tomosynthesis, a method of performing high-resolution limited-angle tomography at radiographic doses.
"It increases the probability from 20 to 65 percent of finding cancer abnormalities," assures Enders. "And even though it uses the same amount of radiation as 2-D it detectsmore invasive breast cancers."
Important as mammograms are, that only gets a patient started on the cancer prevention trail, noted Matt Hoover, a representative with DMS Health technologies. Hoover alerted visitorsto the Positron Emission Tomography and Computed Tomography (PET/CT scan).
"We inject a radioactive sugar that shows functions of cellular metabolism down to the cellular level," said Hoover. "This is the next step in progression (after a mammogram detects a disorder) in diagnosis. It can find metastasizes anywhere in the body and a mammogram won't do that."
DMS Health will begin offering its services in three to four months at Pioneers. It's PET/CTis mounted in the trailer of an 18-wheeler and will visit the hospital every Friday.
"We plan on being here for the long haul," said Hoover. "We're providing reliability and access," said Hoover.
Distributing breast cancer fact-sheets was Monica Veliz De Leon, community outreach manager for the American Cancer Society. Women between 40 and 44 should have the choice to start annual breast cancer mammograms if they wish to do so. Yet ages 45 to 54 should get screened every year, while those 55 and older can switch to screenings every two years.
De Leon cautioned women 30 to 65 should be screened for cervical cancer every three years. Meanwhile, men 50 and older should be screened for prostate cancer and since they have a higher prevalence, while African American men should be screenedstarting at age 45.
Happening upon the event unexpectedly while inquiring how to find a friend's hospital roomwere Sandra Lee and Marie Salazar from Calexico.
"We have a couple of friends with cancer but they made it, they're survivors," said Lee."So we support this."
Carol Rascon, Clinicas de Salud del Pueblo program coordinator, informed visitorsthey may assist those who are uninsured or underinsured.
"Once they're diagnosed with cervical or breast cancer we enroll them to get a Medi-Cal card, so they can accesstreatment within 24 hours because we do it on a computer. Funding comes from thestate's tobacco tax, (Proposition 56)," she said.
Alisa Rocha, marketing and communications manager for the Imperial Valley Cancer Support Center, stated anyone struggling with medical finances, transportation to physician appointments, lodging while traveling to a hospital procedure or even emotional support can turn to the center.
"We welcome men, women and children and encourage them to contact us if they're experiencing any of the above difficulties," said Rocha.
It is never a good idea to procrastinate when it comes to healthcare remarked Amanda Villasenor, Pioneers environmental services coordinator.
"Just because you'renot yet 40, you still need to learn about self-exams," said Villasenor. "You want tocatch it early and not let it go too far."