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Hi-tech breast screening

Randy Bennett

Hi-tech breast screening

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WITHIN THE NEXT THREE MONTHS, Barbadians could have the best breast-screening equipment on the market.
And according to Dr Shirley Jhagroo, chairperson of the Barbados Cancer Society’s Breast Screening Programme, this would help tremendously in the fight against the deadliest form of cancer among women in Barbados.
Speaking to the WEEKEND NATION during a cocktail reception at the Royal Westmoreland Golf Club on Wednesday evening, Jhagroo said that having already purchased a digital mammography machine to the tune of $1.3 million, they were now in the process of acquiring a state-of-the-art ultrasound scanner specifically designed to help detect breast cancer.
She revealed that so far they had raised around $220 000 towards the cost of purchasing the machine that is thought to be priced around $300 000 and they were hoping to have the rest of the money by June, which coincides with the programme’s ten-year anniversary.
“With early detection, lives are saved,” she said.
“Now if we have ultrasound biopsies . . . and we have the digital mammography unit – which is really the gold standard for mammography – along with breast examinations that are carried out, there is no reason why early detection cannot be accomplished.
“In a small island like this, I think with education and facilities being present we can do it, and that is my vision and the vision of the whole committee,” she noted.
The doctor pointed out that the ultrasound would not be used as a substitute for the mammogram. However, she explained that whereas in certain areas the mammogram could not penetrate the breast tissue due to its density, the ultrasound would be able to detect at least a shadow.
“With this new ultrasound which is specifically for breast, you will be able to see the vessels going to it, whether it is arteries or veins.
“It also has a 3D effect where you will be able to see the layers of the breast, and then using guided technology, you would be able to perform breast ultrasound-directed biopsies,” Jhagroo outlined.
Explaining that the process was “very hi-tech”, she said arrangements had been made for someone from California to help with the transition.
“We have taken the burden off Government to do the mammograms and assist in early detection.”