New tool available in fight against breast cancer - - Columbia, South Carolina

New tool available in fight against breast cancer

(Source: WISTV) (Source: WISTV)
(Source: WISTV) (Source: WISTV)
(Source: WISTV) (Source: WISTV)

There is a valuable technology doctors are using on women with suspicious lumps in the breast.

Lexington Medical Center just started using a technology called "elastography."  It helps doctors figure out if a lump is likely cancerous or not.  Consider it another tool in the toolbox.

Elastography is a type of ultrasound technology that helps physicians, like radiologist Dr. Beth Siroty-Smith, figure out if a suspicious mass in a woman's breast is cancer. Elastography calls for an ultrasound wand with added capabilities.

In the radiology reading room at Lexington Medical Center, the screen showing the elastography image looks like Doppler radar.

"It allows us to determine the softness or hardness of a mass if we see something in the breast which can help guide us toward how we handle a mass in the breast. Whether we follow it or if we biopsy it," Dr. Siroty-Smith said.

When unsure of the status of a lump, the colors indicated through elastography help the doctor know which path to take when at a fork in the road.  Remember that elastography is complementary to mammography.

"Mammography is x-ray and ultrasound is sound waves. Both give images, but they are complementary. They don't replace one, ultrasound does not replace mammogram. Mammogram does not replace ultrasound,” said Dr. Siroty-Smith.

The doctor said elastography is used in two different situations.  

"One would be if someone has a screening mammogram and has an abnormality identified that would warrant additional evaluation by ultrasound and then if we saw an actual mass we would apply it,"Dr. Siroty-Smith explained. "The other would be in a lady who would show up with a palpable mass, a mass they could feel, that brought them to the doctor to begin with.”

Elastography has been around for a while but mostly just in research.  Just recently, newer equipment at Lexington Medical Center allowed doctors to have this additional tool - which is why Dr. Siroty-Smith calls it another tool in her toolbox.

"Just one more tool if we put it together with how something looks, their shape, its size, any change from one year to another, as well as the elastography. It is just one more method of evaluating a lump in the breast," Dr. Siroty-Smith said. 

An added benefit to elastography is that it can cut down on the number of unnecessary biopsies when it makes it more obvious to the doctor that waiting and watching is okay.

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