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State of the Art Imaging at SLV Health

Alamosa, Colorado. The following is an excerpt from Dr. Jason Allen’s speech at the 2019 Stephanie L. Miner 5K Walk/Run Fundraiser event. Dr. Allen is a radiologist with Radiology and Imaging Consultants, PC (RIC) out of Colorado Springs. The radiologists at RIC are San Luis Valley Health’s professional partners.

“The story of Stephanie Miner’s battle with breast cancer is a source of inspiration for all of us that work in the imaging department, and with her story in mind, we’re extremely proud of the progress our center at SLV Health has made this year for all women in the San Luis Valley.

Earlier this year, thanks in large part to the tireless efforts and dedication of our department manager, Janet McGinnis, and the financial support of the SLVH Foundation, the SLM Women’s Imaging Center acquired and installed a brand new Tomosynthesis (3-D mammography) unit. This is HUGE! From a radiologist’s perspective, reading a 2-D mammogram is like reading a book with clear pages but not being able to open it. You can see the letters and words but because they all overlap it can be difficult to understand what is written. Tomosynthesis essentially allows us to open the book and look at the pages one by one so we can more effectively read and interpret what the book has to say.

This machine, combined with the knowledge and skills of our mammographer, Barbara Carlson, will enable our group of breast radiologists to detect up to 40% MORE breast cancer compared to conventional digital mammography, and we will be able to detect them earlier. It will also help us more effectively screen women with dense breast tissue AND reduce the need for women to return for additional imaging. We are so excited to be able to offer this screening technology to women throughout the San Luis Valley and surrounding communities!

Another exciting development that I would like to share with you, also made possible through the efforts of Janet McGinnis working closely with SLVRMC hospital administration, is an increase in our biopsy capabilities in the SLM Women’s Imaging Center in the Regional Medical Center in Alamosa. It is anticipated that by the end of November 2019, we will be able to perform Tomosynthesis guided breast biopsies in Alamosa! This will eliminate the need for women to travel outside the valley to undergo a biopsy of abnormal findings made on 2D or 3D mammography (Tomosynthesis) that cannot be seen on Ultrasound such as suspicious calcifications. Another big win in our fight against breast cancer!

I want to extend a huge thank you to our hospital administration and especially Janet McGinnis and the Foundation who have worked so hard to make all of these extremely beneficial improvements to our program. I also want to thank each and every one of you here today participating in this event. Your kindness and generosity and dedication to this cause and to our program are essential to maintaining and elevating the quality of breast care that we can provide to women in the San Luis Valley and surrounding communities.

Just a couple of final thoughts. During October, breast cancer awareness month, let us remember that breast cancer is the MOST COMMON cancer that affects women and the second most common cause of cancer-related death in women! Approximately 1 in 7 women in Colorado will develop breast cancer during their lifetime. Ladies, please remember that the best chance at a cure is an early diagnosis. This means beginning ANNUAL screening mammography at age 40 and talking to your doctor about the possible need for supplemental screening with ultrasound or MRI of the breasts if you have additional risk factors for developing breast cancer such as family history of the disease or dense breast tissue.”

Jason Allen, DO, is a board-certified diagnostic radiologist with fellowship training in women’s imaging. He is a US Air Force veteran and has been with RIC since 2015.

L to R: Sherrie Langford, Joan Mahaffey, Barbara Carlsen, Janet McGinnis, & Robyn Williams