It’s every woman’s nightmare. So when our domestic help, Anita, discovered a painful lump in her breast, she tried to solve the problem by going off to a private clinic in the vicinity for a prescription of pills. The gravity of her condition only struck when she developed fever a few days later, and she was advised to get an ultrasound. The report revealed a “suspicious lesion” that required furthur investigation. There was no way Anita could avoid a mammography. But like millions of other Indian women, she was both shy and terrified at the prospect. What to do?
Then, I remembered that Batra hospital has recently acquired a new, highly advanced mammography machine- Fujifilm’s latest 3D Mammography machine, that combines the best clinical and technical aspects of mammography machines. Called “Amulet Innovality”, this machine uses advanced tomosynthesis technology to enable the conversion of digital breast images into a 3-D digital reconstruction of the breast, in contrast to the flat images produced by traditional 2-D digital mammography. Amulet Innovality enables diagnosticians to obtain a clearer view of the breast tissue, facilitating identification of early stage breast cancer and reducing the need for additional tests and biopsies.
We can’t turn away from the reality that Anita will have to rely on the public health system for treatment(if she does indeed have a cancerous lesion). But the idea of suggesting that she stand in a line for several hours at a public hospital, in her condition to get a diagnosis was abhorrent- especially when cancer diagnostics have advanced to such an extent, and machines like Amulet Innovality provide far more accurate mammograms than other machines. Reconstructed tomographic images created by Amulet Innovality reveal the internal structure of the breast, simplifying the detection of lesions that may be overlooked in a routine mammography.
After scheduling an appointment, we set off to Batra hospital. The last time I visited this hospital was five years ago, and I was pleasantly surprised to find that the atmosphere is much calmer than that of other private hospitals I have been in recently. Patients and their attendants have plenty of space to sit and wait for their turn with the doctors, and better still, senior doctors take a personal interest in each case. Though Anita was close to tears when she went in for the mammography, technician radiographer Neha Titoria’s efficient and affectionate presence helped calm her down.
1 out of 2 Indian women diagnosed with breast cancer faces the prospect of death. Nearly 50% of the 144,937 women detected with the disease in 2012 succumbed to the disease, according to a Globocan report. That’s because more than 92 percent of breast cancers in Indian women are diagnosed at stage II or later. “ Screening is not done by women on a regular basis,” says Dr. G.P. Vashist, Director Radiology & Imaging, Batra Hospital & Medical Research Centre, New Delhi.
But oncologists say this must change, considering the rise in the incidence of breast cancer in women of urban India over the past decade. Today, more females in their 30s and 40s are testing positive. “We need to enable women to overcome their inhibitions and get regular mammograms to protect their health,” says Dr. Vashisht. Come October (Breast cancer awareness month) and women will be able to avail of this special mammography at a special price at Batra hospital.