Rome– Known as a place where patients become more like family, Mohawk Glen Radiology at 91 Perimeter Road has a 24-year history of combining compassionate care with the latest technology to help women in the Rome area detect, fight and overcome breast cancer .
Patient services include radiology, ultrasound, mammography, computed tomography/CAT scan, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), bone density and x-rays.
Mohawk Glen’s mammography has been enhanced with 3D technology. The 2D imaging process takes images from multiple angles, while the 3D process (called holography) saves time and radiation exposure by keeping the patient in one position.
The process also helps to take accurate images of different types of breast tissue. Breasts contain three types of tissue: glands, fibers, and fat. Dense breasts contain a lot of glandular and fibrous tissue and less fatty tissue. The four main types of breasts – A, B, C and D – are classified according to their tissue composition.
Mohawk Glen’s certified mammography department is staffed by specially trained technicians, including mammography technicians Carolyn Smith, Tammy Amo and Katie Tarkowski.
Smith, who is retiring as a technician at Mohawk Glen Radiology for 23 years, said she has witnessed the development of 3D digital technology over the past 20 years.
Before digital technology, “you had the work done for you, taking the film into the darkroom,” Smith said, citing older film technology. The technician added that, like in photo photography, the film must be processed and developed as if the photo was taken in a darkroom, which is difficult and time-consuming.
She also explains how to classify breast density as A, B, C or D – A is fat; B is diffuse; C is dense; and D is very dense.
With older film technology, “if the chemicals used to develop the film are turned off, it can make mammograms darker and harder to view, especially if the woman has dense tissue,” Smith said.
Because 2D and 3D technologies can capture images from many different angles, doctors can actually view them during a patient visit, greatly reducing the time it takes them to get results.
If any abnormalities are detected on the mammogram, Smith explained, the patient will be contacted and may be advised to schedule an ultrasound or biopsy depending on the diagnosis. If a biopsy is recommended, the patient will speak with a doctor, who will explain the reason for the biopsy and offer the patient the option of receiving services in Rome, Utica, or Syracuse. That’s why it’s so important for women to get a mammogram every year.
“You shouldn’t skip your mammogram,” Smith advises. “You should go every year, because every year doctors look for subtle changes in breast tissue,” which help them detect cancer early.
If a patient is advised to have an ultrasound or biopsy, “I check with them every 30 days to make sure they don’t fall through the cracks,” Smith said.
About 5-6 years ago, Mohawk Glen Radiology was fully 3D imaging, 2D and 2D tomography. Tomography imaging is like taking a “slice” of the breast, so doctors can look at the different layers of tissue separately.
With digital imaging, “you get the perfect picture every time,” Smith said. “There is no reason to do it again unless the patient is in the wrong position.”
After 23 years at Mohawk Glen, Smith said it will be the “people” she will miss most, from patients to colleagues.
“I love what I do, and that’s because I get to work with great colleagues and doctors who are amazing here,” she said. “The ladies who come in are like your family – I ask how their kids are and they do the same for me. It’s a very personable office where you can build relationships and I’m lucky to be in work here.”