April 5, 1999
Dr. Kara Carlson, medical director of Women's Imaging Center at Evergreen, stresses that "Early detection is the key ... and the new center is making it as easy as possible."
Photo by Larry Gill.
by Deborah Stone
Evergreen Hospital Medical Center recently celebrated the grand opening of its Women's Imaging Center. Early detection of breast cancer and other diseases that strike women is the focus of the Center.
According to Dr. Kara Carlson, medical director of the Women's Imaging Center, women themselves can sometimes be the greatest obstacles to early detection.
"Women still have a tendency to neglect breast self-exams and avoid an annual mammogram," explains Carlson. "We've heard every imaginable excuse for not coming in."
In order to address this problem, Carlson and her staff have created an informative, warm, and supportive environment with appointments available evenings and Saturdays. In addition to mammography, the Center offers other diagnostic tools for women including stereotactic and ultrasound-guided core biopsies to examine breast masses and microcalcifications, sentinal node biopsies (a state-of-the-art treatment available on protocol at Evergreen) to identify the lymph node most likely to contain tumors if the breast cancer has spread and bone mineral density services, known as a DEXA scan, to help diagnose osteoporosis.
The focus of the Center is to provide comprehensive services and an individual treatment plan for each patient. Patients are also given instruction in how to perform breast self-exams and have the opportunity to practice with breast models.
"Fear is a big obstacle and we want to help ease the anxiety that many women feel over their exams," comments Carlson. "We can do diagnostic mammograms and get the results to patients quickly, as well as take it to the next level of diagnosis, so they don't have to go home and worry for several days, which just increases the level of anxiety. Women who have discovered a lump or other breast-related problem need answers right away."
If the mammogram reveals a lump or lesion, an ultrasound exam can be performed immediately to learn the cause of the abnormality. Dr. Carlson will review the findings and options with the patient and her primary care physician. All newly diagnosed breast cancer cases are reviewed by a wide range of health care professionals at weekly multidisciplinary meetings.
Since opening, the Women's Imaging Center has increased its patient volumes by forty percent. The demand is high and the Center has recently added a fourth mammogram unit to accommodate the number of patients.
"We have state-of-the-art equipment and a well-educated staff of caring and compassionate individuals who work well together," says Carlson. "They take an active role in their learning and are very well-informed. I am fortunate to have such a great team. They are the ones who make it all happen."
One in every eight women is diagnosed with breast cancer and seventy percent of these women have no family history associated with the disease. Although the exact causes of breast cancer have yet to be determined, the statistics indicate that there is a ninety-five to ninety-seven percent rate of survival with early detection and treatment.
Early detection includes a monthly breast self-exam, an annual clinical exam and screening mammography. A baseline mammogram is suggested for women between the ages of thirty-five and forty years. After forty, annual mammograms should be done for screening purposes.
"Early detection is the key," states Carlson. "It's the best protection, and the Women's Imaging Center is making it as easy as possible."
The Women's Imaging Center is located in the Evergreen Professional Center, adjacent to Evergreen Hospital. For more information, call 425-899-1849.