Women in the Gunnison Valley will soon have access to another piece of cutting-edge equipment to aid in the early detection of breast cancer. Nationally, 40% of women have dense breasts, putting them 4-6 times higher at risk of getting breast cancer. Gunnison Valley Health (GVH) Radiologist, Dr. Graf and his team explained to the Cattlemen’s Days Tough Enough to Wear Pink (TETWP) Board of Directors in the start of 2023 that 52% of women in the Valley have category C and D dense breasts, an alarming number compared to the national percentage.
With a history dating back to 2006, GVH and Gunnison TETWP have partnered up to bring the best cancer care to the valley, one result being over $1.4M in cutting-edge and life-saving technology being purchased by TETWP, including a Breast MRI Coil, Hologic 3D Tomosynthesis machine, a Breast Stereotactic Biopsy Device and most recently in 2022, a Hivamat Deep Oscillation unit.
GVH came with a proposal for Gunnison TETWP, the purchase of a new technology that provides a 35.7% increase in cancer detection when used in conjunction with mammography. The Automated Whole-Breast Ultrasound (ABUS) is a supplemental screening technology specifically designed for detecting cancer in dense breast tissue. The ABUS offers an efficient and short exam time, ergonomic design, is cost-effective with high clinical impact, and would transform breast care services from reactive to proactive. According to GE, the ABUS manufacturer, 91% of cancers found with the ABUS technology are invasive, and too small to find in a mammogram. By increasing early deduction, it would reduce costs, improve morbidity and enable patients to a less invasive treatment.
Using high-frequency sound waves to create detailed, three-dimensional images of the breast, this advanced imaging technique allows radiologists to examine breast tissue layer by layer, making it easier to identify and differentiate between benign and malignant masses. The ABUS examination is non-invasive, radiation-free, and typically takes only 15 minutes.
Gunnison TETWP wholeheartedly agreed that this technology aligned with not only the continued partnership and strategic goals with GVH, and was also a deep need for our community. Gunnison TETWP has purchased the ABUS technology for $246,094.50 and will continue to provide financial assistance, in partnership with the Gunnison Valley Health Foundation, for ABUS screenings to the uninsured and underinsured.
Having access to this equipment at our local hospital gives women access to the best care without leaving the valley. In addition, GVH will be the only hospital on the Western Slope with an ABUS unit, which can be a benefit to women in surrounding communities as well.
Gunnison Valley Health is in the process of installing and implementing the ABUS screening and is planning for it to be available in the summer of 2023.