September 23, 2010 -
Women across Clallam County have benefited from digital mammography since its installation one year ago. More women are discovering their breast cancer early, allowing for earlier intervention.
“When detected in its initial stages, the five-year survival rate for breast cancer is approximately 96 percent,” says Kacey Eichacker, women’s program supervisor for Olympic Medical Imaging Center.
According to the American Cancer Society, the five-year survival rate refers to the percentage of patients who live at least five years after being diagnosed with cancer. Many of these patients live much longer than five years after diagnosis.
As screening tools, such as digital mammography, have advanced, the detection of breast cancer in its initial stages has increased. “Survival rates are improving, and this correlates with the increase in early detection,” says Eichacker.
Providing a Valuable Service
Despite its expense and inadequate reimbursement by Medicare, Olympic Medical Imaging Center provides digital mammography to the community so its residents can have access to the most advanced level of care without traveling to Seattle.
“Previously many women were leaving the area specifically for digital mammography because it was the best tool for their particular situation,” says Eichacker. “We don’t want women putting off their important screening because they couldn’t afford to travel or take the day off. We want women to receive an exceptional level of care right here at home.”
In the first year, Olympic Medical has seen various improvements thanks to the installation of digital mammography. Women who have a finding in their diagnostic mammogram can now expect a diagnosis in three days as opposed to seven to eight days. “We are working hard to close the gap between unusual findings in the screening mammogram to diagnosis. We also want to let women know sooner if their diagnostic mammogram comes up negative, meaning no breast cancer,” Eichacker says. “Those few days can be frightening and our ultimate goal is to whittle that down to one-day or even same-day diagnosis.”
Partially Funded by First Federal
In early 2009, First Federal provided Olympic Medical Center with an initial grant of $375,000 to use, in part, to install digital mammography equipment in Port Angeles and Sequim and provide advanced training for the technologists.
In addition, on June 19, 2010, Olympic Medical utilized a portion of First Federal’s gift to provide free screening to 20 women who would not otherwise have been able to afford this valuable screening. Olympic Medical collaborated with Operation Uplift and held the Free Breast Health Screening event in conjunction with “Pink Up Port Angeles”, a Soroptomist initiative dedicated to raising awareness of breast cancer, along with raising money for Operation Uplift.
Olympic Medical Center (Clallam County Public Hospital District No. 2) is a comprehensive, award-winning health care provider for more than 70,000 residents of Clallam County. It has served the community since its establishment on Nov. 1, 1951, and is governed by a seven-member, publicly elected board. OMC is a sole community hospital and rural referral center. It provides inpatient services at its 80-bed acute-care facility in Port Angeles, including a level-three trauma designated emergency department, surgical services, and labor and delivery. OMC’s outpatient services include cardiac, imaging, physical therapy and rehabilitation, laboratory, sleep medicine, surgical services, home health, physician clinics and comprehensive regional cancer care at locations in Port Angeles and Sequim.
Show Your Support for Breast Cancer Awareness!
Help us celebrate Breast Cancer Awareness Month in October by dressing in pink, gathering your co-workers or friends (also wearing pink) and taking a group photo.
We will post photos on the Web site at www.olympicmedical.org through November 5.