Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women across all races and ethnicities.
According to the CDC, more than 40,000 women and more than 400 men die each year from breast cancer.
A new method of screening is currently available at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Florida, and Arizona. Franciscan Healthcare in La Crosse will be the very first Mayo Clinic Health System to offer the technique full time and the only one in the La Crosse area.
Dr. Richard Ellis, Breast Care, Radiology, and Imaging at Mayo Clinic in La Crosse said the new tool using Molecular Breast Imaging (MBI) is improving the detection of abnormalities.
"The greater the amount of milk producing gland tissue, which demarcates the density of the breast-the harder it is for us to identify breast cancer. And the reason for that is breast tissue appears white on the mammogram and most cancers will also appear white," said Ellis.
Hence, a typical mammography conducted on a patient with dense tissue poses a greater risk of a tumor being obscured.
"About fifty percent of women have dense breast tissue," said Deborah Rhodes, a Consultant for Breast Diagnostics at Mayo Clinic in Rochester.
Linda Sherony of La Crosse is part of that 50 percent and said she's thankful she caught her cancer early.
"Didn't really put any meaning behind that until I had my routine screening, got a call for a follow-up and then that day I went back in and they had more tests done and then the very next morning I had surgery, immediately," said Sherony.
She stressed just how important instincts and time can be when it comes to one's health.
"It's such a hassle. Just wait until January when you have more time, do it over break. And you have that little voice and the little voice said, woman suck it up and make that appointment and go. I just consider myself very lucky because I went then, it was caught very early," said Sherony.
And this new screening tool, MBI, will only improve detection rates for women like Linda.
"In our studies, comparing mammography with molecular breast imaging, we've found that molecular breast imaging detects three to four times more cancers in the dense breast than mammography does," added Rhodes.
Fundamentally taking a different approach to breast imaging from x-rays to high resolution gamma rays.
"The mammogram looks at the anatomy of the breast, while molecular breast imaging looks at physiology. And so cancer cells typically have a very high, or rapid what we talk about as turnover and therefore it's easier to identify breast cancer in the background of very dense tissue with molecular breast imaging," expressed Ellis.
The new screening technique is expected to be available by September 1.
MORE INFORMATION: Mayo Clinic Health System