(Editor's note: Today's edition of The Recorder has been printed in pink and this story is being featured in recognition of Breast Cancer Awareness Month).

The cancer care patients in the South Valley need is here in a significant way today. The Roger S. Good Cancer Treatment Center, CTC, located next to Sierra View Medical Center offers a wide variety of modalities for the treatment of cancer.

Cancer services include a CT Scanner and treatment planning. A Linear Accelerator brings state-of-the-art technology which utilizes the most innovative beam-shaping solution for cancer treatments. Radiology Oncologist Dr. Owen C. Kim, MD works closely with a multi-disciplinary group of physicians (including specialists in Hematology and Medical Oncology), nursing staff, technicians, and patient registration members to bring safe, high-quality care to Porterville and surrounding communities. Radiologist Dr. Thomas Maclennan, M.D. is a physician who works closely not only with the CTC but with other departments to provide diagnostic medical imaging. He took a moment to answer some questions related to Breast Imaging.

What is medical imaging?

Medical imaging is a very important part of women’s health. I encourage every woman to seek the advice and counsel of their personal physician and listen to the doctor’s recommendation for breast imaging.

What is a mammogram?

A mammogram is a picture of the breasts. The latest technology is digital mammography, including 3-D images of the breasts. Much like looking at a loaf a bread, the individual slices of the bread. It’s a way of looking at the internal contents of the breasts. Many longitudinal studies over years and years throughout the world have shown that this survey procedure, when appropriately used, reduces mortality from breast cancer because of earlier detection and treatment.

There are recommendations in general. For instance, our American College of Radiology recommends an initial mammogram at age 40 and yearly. There are definitely exceptions and it’s very important for the person having the mammogram to visit their doctor, explain their history and have the doctor make a recommendation as to when to start mammography and how frequently. For instance, if the patient were to have a strong history of breast cancer or some genetic predisposition, or some abnormal finding on their breasts (such as a palpable mass), it might change what timing and frequency of examinations are necessary. Beyond mammography, there are other imaging options including ultrasound and breast MRI.

How are results communicated?

The results of the mammogram are sent to the physician and, for instance, if there is a normal mammogram or there are benign findings, the patient might return for a yearly examination. However, if there is an abnormal finding, this result is communicated to the physician and the patient and recommendations for additional studies are made.

How can a patient make an appointment? Where does someone start?

The patient should go to their physician, and be given an examination and then the doctor upon looking at the women’s history or physical findings in a clinical breast examination will make a recommendation on what type of imaging to be done. The mammograms now are quick, there are better compression devices to make the mammograms in most instances much more comfortable than years ago and it’s nothing that would be frightening or unusually complex. It’s a really straightforward exam. Breast ultrasound is a painless procedure. Both procedures may take 15-20 minutes, or 30 minutes in some instance.

The Roger S. Good Cancer Treatment Center is located at 465 W. Putnam Ave., Porterville. To learn more about cancer care in Porterville, visit www.sierra-view.com/cancer

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