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A New Tool in the Fight Against Breast Cancer

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A diagnosis of breast cancer can be a frightening experience.  Aiding in the fight against breast cancer, Memorial Health System of East Texas introduces technology that battles the disease with confidence.  Recently installing the Sentinelle Vanguard® breast MRI coil, Memorial Health System of East Texas is the only facility is Deep East Texas to perform MRI guided breast biopsies.  This advanced Breast MRI system helps physicians to confidently detect, diagnose and accurately perform biopsies for breast cancer patients.

According to Christopher Sherman, M.D., Ph.D., board certified Radiologist at Memorial Health System of East Texas, the MRI capability is a powerful new tool that Memorial Health System of East Texas now has to evaluate the extent of disease in newly diagnosed breast cancer patients.  Additionally, this technology allows screening of patients who are at high risks of developing breast cancer over their lifetimes.

The Sentinelle system is known for producing impressive, high quality breast MRI images.  Many factors affect image quality, including the ability of the patient to stay as still as possible, and the ability to closely image the breast. The advanced ergonomic design utilizes a memory foam concept, positioning “wings” and a very comfortable sternum rest. A more comfortable patient results in minimal patient motion, and reduced motion provides better image quality.

Variable Coil GeometryTM (VCG) technology allows MRI receive coils to be adjusted and positioned in close proximity to the breast but without the discomforting compression associated with x-ray mammography. This ability to optimize positioning for different breast sizes allows the system to provide consistent high quality breast images across patients and to accommodate larger breast sizes.  VCG also allows for enhanced coverage area, which results in detecting lesions that may not be seen in conventional breast MRI equipment.

As the only health care professionals in Deep East Texas to perform breast biopsy using MRI technology, Memorial radiologists have 360-degree independent access to each breast. This allows for biopsy access with minimum needle travel required, which reduces breast trauma.  With features not available in traditional breast MRI coils, Sentinelle’s next generation system optimizes imaging and access and ultimately, patient care and comfort. 

Dr. Sherman adds, “Although mammography continues to be the gold standard in breast screening, breast MRI can be used to detect cancer at its earliest stages when it is used to screen patients with a high lifetime risk for developing breast cancer.  We determine who has a high lifetime risk of breast cancer by asking them certain questions from the National Cancer Institute’s Breast Cancer Risk Assessment Tool.  Breast MRI also is used to stage patients recently diagnosed with breast cancer and to evaluate potential recurrent disease in patients who have had breast cancer.  Breast MRI also can be used to evaluate whether or not breast implants are intact.”

The American College of Radiology (ACR) recommends MRI examinations in addition to annual mammograms for women with a high lifetime risk of breast cancer.  This includes:  women with a known BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene mutation; a first-degree relative (parent, sibling or child) with the above gene mutation; exposure to chest-area radiation between the ages of 10 and 30; or a lifetime risk for the development of breast cancer greater than 20% using the National Cancer Institute’s Breast Cancer Risk Assessment Tool. 

With his extensive clinical experience in screening and diagnostic mammography, breast ultrasound, breast MRI, breast pathology and interventional procedures, women can expect even more specialized care.  Dr. Sherman, who complete fellowship training in breast imaging at M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, is proficient in the advanced interpretation of image-guided biopsies with mammography and breast MRI.  His education in the epidemiology, diagnosis, pathology and therapy of breast cancer give him credibility in identifying patterns of recurrence of malignant breast tumors.  Memorial Health System of East Texas and Dr. Sherman are dedicated to winning the war against breast cancer and improving patient care with early detection and accurate intervention.


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