14 News Special Report: The Lifesaving Story - 14 News, WFIE, Evansville, Henderson, Owensboro

14 News Special Report: The Lifesaving Story

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It's being called the most significant advancement in breast cancer detection in over 30 years.

When women schedule their annual mammograms now at Deaconess Breast Center, they'll undergo more than the regular 2D test. Thanks to a $450,000 grant from the Deaconess Foundation, new 3D imaging is available to patients.

One Evansville woman says it might have just saved her life.

"I've always done the yearly check, I guess ever since I turned 40. I've always been very diligent about having that done," Betty Tabert said.

68-year old Tabert was used to getting a good report from her yearly mammogram, until now.

"I just knew that it was cancer. I didn't have like a fear kind of thing. I just knew deep down that that's what it would come out to be," Tabert shared.

Her intuition was right. After more tests and a biopsy, she was diagnosed with breast cancer.  

"Very emotional, very sad. I've have a lot going on. A lot to live for," Tabert said.

But her doctors say they caught it early, thanks to something new at Deaconess Breast Center. 

"If it had not have been for the 3D machine, it would not have been picked up until I had my mammogram the following December, which the outcome of that would have been different," she shared.

3D mammography, or tomosynthesis, is a more advanced screening than the traditional 2D mammogram. 

"It allows us to slice through the breast in thin images and then it's reconstructed. I can look at it in 3D," said Dr. Marc Johnson, a radiologist.

The difference, according to Johnson, is he can take look at Tabert's breast from the 2D image and then the images from the new 3D screening.

There's a clear difference when you look at the two side by side. Johnson says 3D mammography increases the ability to detect cancer by about 30 to 40 percent, which he calls a game changer when it comes to treatment.

"A lot of times that can just be treated with surgery, and then they may have some radiation. But then a lot of times, chemotherapy is not required because the cancer is not advanced to the degree that it has spread maybe to the lymph nodes or somewhere else in the body. That's the huge advantage," Johnson said.

A 3D mammogram is performed at the same time as a 2D. The only difference is an arm that moves during the procedure capturing multiple images. The total time to get those images is about seven seconds.

"It's been amazing," said Robynn Working.  

Working is a mammographer and patient navigator at the breast center.

"We've diagnosed probably five or six breast cancers in a month and a half time with 3D that would have been questionable with the 2D," Working said.

She sees firsthand, the benefit to women coming in for the screening.

"It alleviates the need for callbacks, so women are getting called back for additional images a little less. Detection rate's higher, callback rate's lower, so it's a great situation," Working said.

As for Tabert, she has a couple months of radiation treatments ahead of her, but the prognosis is good for seeing her grandchildren grow up.

"That was one of my fears that if something did happen, that I would not be able to live long enough to see them," Tabert said.

She hopes her story will inspire other women to get the new mammogram and potentially save a life.

"Because if I hadn't, my diagnosis, my life would have been completely different. It's well worth it," Tabert shared.

According to Deaconess officials, patients will not pay extra for the 3D mammogram.  

The new screening will also be available next month at the new St. Mary's Breast Center at Epworth Crossing. 

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