MetroHealth CH expands breast cancer care and screening
In early December, MetroHealth began offering 3D breast cancer screening services inside its Cleveland Heights Medical Center at 10 Severance Circle.
The permanent onsite service replaces MetroHealth's Mobile 3D Mammography Coach, which had been a weekly fixture at the medical center for the past three years.
Breast cancer screening mammography at MetroHealth in Cleveland Heights is now available on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays.
Patients liked the convenience of the mobile van, which brought mammograms close to where they live, and appointments that often last less than 15 minutes. But they missed the experience of getting their screening inside the building, especially during the colder months.
MetroHealth acquired the former Cleveland Heights HealthSpan building in 2016. Instead of offering breast cancer screenings using outdated equipment, the health system invested in a Mobile 3D Mammography Coach. Planning for the acquisition of the special van, which took a year to build, began in 2017. The latest breast cancer screening technology—the same used at all MetroHealth’s Breast Imaging sites—arrived at Cleveland Heights and four other ambulatory locations in the summer of 2019.
The new machines, which reduce the overall radiation dose, have a higher sensitivity rate and a more comfortable curved surface. Multiple low-dose images are captured during 3D tomosynthesis, also known as 3D mammography, as opposed to two-dimensional images obtained with 2D mammograms.
“The volume of data with 3D has more information about the breast than standard 2D mammograms,” said Venkataramu N. Krishnamurthy, M.D., chair of MetroHealth’s Department of Radiology. “When there is more data, there is less chance of missing a cancer. Our accuracy in finding breast cancer improves incrementally.”
The demand for screening mammograms is expected to increase in the wake of a new Ohio law, in effect since the end of September, which requires most health insurers to cover one screening mammogram a year, regardless of age or risk factors.
The law also requires most insurers to cover supplemental screening exams for those patients with dense breasts, or at an increased risk of breast cancer because of personal or family history, ancestry, a genetic predisposition to the disease, or other reasons determined by their health care provider. Covered supplemental screening exams offered at MetroHealth include ABUS and MRI.
“Our goal with screening mammography and supplemental screening exams is to find small, early-stage disease and have the opportunity to give our patients better outcomes and a chance of cure,” said Christina Clemow, D.O., MetroHealth’s division chief of Breast Imaging and Intervention, who testified in support of the new law.
MetroHealth now recommends that every woman should get an annual mammogram starting at age 40.
At the time of their appointment, patients are given a risk assessment to determine their calculated lifetime risk of breast cancer. The risk score is used to determine if they would benefit from risk-reducing medications or additional screening surveillance.
To make a mammography appointment at MetroHealth, call 216-957-BRST (2778).
Angela Townsend is a senior writer in the department of marketing and communications at The MetroHealth System.