U.S. Army Medical Activity-Hunter Army Airfield's Tuttle Army Health Clinic cut the ribbon to signify the opening of their new Digital Breast Tomosynthesis or 3D mammography suite April 13.
The process to bring the technology to Tuttle was a tedious, yet necessary endeavor. Tuttle Commander, Lt. Col. Michael Tarpey, said he is excited to finally have the machine in-house and up and running.
"It's awesome," Tarpey said. "I've been around Army for 23 years have worked at all kinds of clinics and hospitals. I've worked at clinics at Fort Benning, overseas, and Fort Bragg. I've never been lucky enough to be part of a clinic which had a mammography unit."
In 2013, which is the most recent statistics, more than 230 thousand women and 2,109 men were diagnosed with breast cancer. In both cases one third of those diagnosed lost their battle to this disease. Breast cancer crosses ethnic and racial lines, but is the most common cancer death among Hispanics. For white, black and Asian/Pacific Islander women, breast cancer is the second most common cause of death.
While these statics may be a startling reality, the Tuttle MEDDAC team is working to help saves lives through more thorough breast exams. The DBT is especially important for women with dense breast tissue. The 3D technology helps detect possible problems easier and early. By bringing state-of-the-art mammography to the Tricare beneficiaries in the Coastal Southeast Georgia region, the Tuttle team is able to give the best method for early detection--screenings.
If patients are screened regularly, studies show a 25 percent reduction in deaths due to the potential for treatment to begin earlier in the course of the disease. Jacqueline Harvey, a Tuttle ACH registered nurse case manager and breast cancer survivor, said she was the first to be diagnosed in her Family.
"I was doing my own breast exams, but did not feel anything, but I went in for my annual mammogram and that's when a spot was found," Harvey said. "I then had the ultrasound and the biopsy, that's when I was told by my general surgeon that it was malignant and luckily was caught early enough … I'm doing well today and I just can't emphasize how much the importance of having your mammogram is."
Prior to Tuttle's acquisition of the DBT, patients living in the Savannah, Georgia area of care had to either be seen outside of the network, or travel 45 minutes to Winn Army Community Hospital to receive a mammogram. The DBT produces a cleaner and clearer image resulting in fewer call backs, earlier detection, increased comfort as both 2D and 3D images are taken simultaneously, as well as the cost savings to the Army overall.
"Tuttle Army Health Clinic is really in a partnership with other private and governmental health care facilities in the region," Tarpey said. "We work closely with the Veterans Administration Clinic here in Savannah, with Memorial Hospital and other hospitals in Savannah. In the past we had to refer out a lot of the components of the well woman exam. Now were able to do it here and really we are the primary place where women from Hunter Army Airfield and the Savannah area can come and get all aspects of their well women's exam completed."
To schedule your well woman's exam and/or mammogram, please call the MEDDAC appointment line at 912-435-6633.