Women’s imaging team celebrates first year at Tygervalley
The Tygervalley Mammography Centre has just celebrated its first anniversary. And a year after SCP Radiology launched this centre for women’s imaging in Bellville, Cape Town, Dr Salomine Theron says that it is everything the team had envisioned.
“The idea for this centre indirectly came from our patients,” says Dr Theron, radiologist and Partner at SCP, and Branch Manager for the centre. “Even though the importance of mammograms is well known, we realised that women might be more willing to honour their annual breast cancer screening if they could avoid a hospital setting.
“We put some thought into it and came up with this concept: a warm and welcoming space where support and empathy are immediately felt. And judging by the feedback from our patients, we know today that we had made the right decision.”
Today, she says, the comments that matter more than the compliments on the stylish décor and friendly staff, are from women who say that their fear of a mammogram – that critically important annual exam – has subsided.
She explains that it is nerve racking at best to go for a test that was designed to diagnose cancer. “And where breast cancer is indeed suspected, or had been diagnosed before, the experience is so much more draining. We therefore view anything that makes it easier and more comfortable for the patient, as a victory in patient care.”
Lelani Terblanche, Head of Department at the Tygervalley Mammography Centre, agrees. “It is definitely a very emotional experience for many women. Our team understands it very well and it gives us great peace of mind to know that our patient care is making women feel safe.”
Additional women’s imaging services
Dr Theron says it was important to offer other women’s imaging services at the centre as well. “When an abnormality is identified on a mammogram, we as radiologists investigate further in order to enable an accurate diagnosis.
“It is often necessary to follow up the mammogram with a breast ultrasound in order to gain more information about the abnormality in the breast tissue. Thereafter it might also be necessary to do a breast biopsy to confirm the nature of the suspicious cell tissue.
“We thought it wise also to offer these services on appointment at the centre, as well as bone densitometry for bone mineral density and signs of osteoporosis, thus offering a grouping of medical imaging services in an environment that’s comfortable for women.”
In consultation with a treating physician
Lelani reminds women that radiologists work in consultation with referring clinicians and that the result of any procedure will be sent to the patient’s treating physician (such as a general practitioner).
“Even though a patient over 40 doesn’t need a referral for a mammogram, we strongly recommend that she informs her doctor of the mammogram and expected report beforehand. Should our radiologists identify an abnormality, they will contact the patient’s doctor.”
Dr Theron encourages women to talk to their doctor about a breast cancer risk assessment at age 30, and then follow the recommended guidelines for regular screening. Women with average risk should go for an annual mammogram from 40 years onwards, while women with higher risk should follow their doctor’s advice on age and frequency.
“The best outcomes are reached when breast cancer is diagnosed before symptoms are clinically detectable,” she says, “and our primary goal will always be to see as many breast cancer patients as soon as possible so they can get timely and effective treatment.”
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*SCP Radiology offers medical imaging services at 19 locations in the Western Cape, including MRI, CT, X-rays, mammography and interventional procedures. For more information on our services, click here.