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PVH is Now Providing Digital Mammography


New digital mammography equipment is being installed at Penobscot Valley Hospital. The new Seleniaä machine will provide the best image quality available in the industry. 

February 21 -  Penobscot Valley Hospital has announced that it now provides the latest in mammography screening technology.  Seleniaä digital mammography incorporates revolutionary imaging technology that provides incredibly sharp images.  Mammography images appear on the technologist’s monitor in a matter of seconds, there is no waiting for film to develop, which means less time in the breast imaging suite for patients.

The new Seleniaä machine will provide clearer images and improved reviewing tools.  Because of this, patient exams will be shorter and there will be fewer call backs for further testing.  The machine includes a MammoPad® Breast Cushion which facilitates muscle relaxation by cushioning muscles and also radiates warmth.  Tilting paddles automatically conform to the natural contours of the body for a more comfortable procedure.

Digital mammography uses traditional X-ray generators and tubes to produce an X-ray beam.  This beam is then converted into digital information that displayed, stored electronically, analyzed and manipulated in a number of ways.  PVH is proud to provide digital mammography services to help improve early breast cancer detection. 

Seleniaä digital mammography offers a number of other practical advantages and patient conveniences.  Because there is no waiting for film to be developed it significantly reduces the need for repeat exams due to under or over exposure.  Digital images are easily stored and transferred electronically, eliminating the dependency on one set of original films, which can sometimes be misfiled or lost in transit.

Breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death among women, after lung cancer.  The National Cancer Institute estimates that one in eight women will develop breast cancer sometime in her life.  The stage at which breast cancer is detected influences a woman’s chance of survival.  If detected early, the five-year survival rate is 97%! 

According to the American Cancer Society, factors that increase a woman's risk of breast cancer include older age, genetic factors, family history of breast or ovarian cancer, long menstrual history, null parity (having no children), older than 30 years of age at first full-term pregnancy, daily alcohol consumption, use of combined postmenopausal hormone replacement therapy (HRT), postmenopausal obesity and ionizing radiation. Factors that decrease a woman's risk of breast cancer include breast-feeding and physical activity (exercise).

“Regardless of these risk factors, all women should receive annual mammograms starting at age 40,” states Heather Hines, PVH Imaging Department Director.  “The key to mammograms is not receiving just one.  Obtaining annual exams allows us to compare changes from year to year.”

Penobscot Valley Hospital is committed to the fight against breast cancer.  In offering digital mammography, PVH provides the latest in imaging quality.  “Our hospital now offers the same technology as larger facilities.  This is a huge advancement in care for women in the greater Lincoln area,” adds Hines.

If you would like to schedule a mammogram or have questions about this important breast health procedure, please contact your primary care physician or the PVH Imaging Department at (207) 794-7118.  If you need help paying for a breast exam, call the Maine Breast & Cervical Health Program toll free at (800) 350-5180.  For more information about digital mammography at PVH, visit


What You Need to Know About One of Our Nation's Top Three Killers


Myths About Colorectal Cancer
Courtesy: American Cancer Society
Myth #1: Colorectal cancer is a man's disease.
Truth: Colorectal cancer is just as common among women as men. Each year, about 150,000 Americans are diagnosed with colorectal cancer, and about 50,000 die from the disease.
Myth #2: It's better not to get tested for colorectal cancer, because it's deadly anyway.
Truth: Colorectal cancer is often highly treatable. If it is found and treated early (while it is small and before it has spread), the 5-year survival rate is about 90 percent. But because many people are not getting tested, only about 4 out of 10 are diagnosed at this early stage when treatment is most likely to be successful.
March is National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month. According to the American Cancer Society, colorectal cancer is the third most commonly diagnosed cancer and the third leading cause of cancer death in both men and women in the United States. The disease develops from precancerous polyps in the colon or rectum, and occurs as a result of errors in the way cells grow and repair the lining of the colon. The risk of a man having colorectal cancer in his lifetime is about 1 in 19; for a woman, it is about 1 in 20.
"Unfortunately, there are no early warning signs for colorectal cancer. When symptoms do occur, they may include blood in the stool, abdominal pain, a change in bowel habits (constipation or diarrhea), unexplained weight loss, or extreme fatigue," says David Dumont, MD at Penobscot Valley Hospital. 
"Getting screened for colorectal cancer routinely can significantly reduce your risk of developing the cancer," he says. "Because more than 90 percent of cases are diagnosed in those over the age of 50, it is smart to begin regular screenings when that milestone is reached. A healthy lifestyle can also go a long way toward preventing the disease."
As of 2007, U.S. annual incidence and mortality rates for colorectal cancer have both dropped substantially from 1975 rates. Beth Buckley, Clinical Operations practice leader at Quorum Health Resources (QHR) reported: "It has been estimated that half of this decline can be attributed to changes in risk factors, and half to increases in screening for colorectal cancer." In 1987, only about 35 percent of American adults in the recommended age range underwent screening; by 2008, this number had increased to 63 percent. Dr. Dumont recommends the following steps to help prevent colorectal cancer:
Get Screened. As of age 50, make a commitment to regular screenings for colorectal cancer. If you have a close relative who has suffered from colorectal polyps or colorectal cancer, or if you have inflammatory bowel disease, talk to your doctor about getting screened today. There are several different types of screening tests that may be combined or used alone, including:
· Colonoscopy (every 10 years)
· High-sensitivity fecal occult blood test (annual)
· Flexible sigmoidoscopy (every five years)
Eat Healthy. Medical experts agree that one of the best ways to reduce your chances of developing colorectal cancer is to maintain a diet low in animal fats and high in fruits, vegetables and whole grains.
Get Moving. Studies show that those who are physically active are 24 percent less likely to develop colorectal cancer than those who are not. The American Cancer Society recommends exercising at least 30 minutes a day, several days per week.
Maintain a Healthy Weight. Studies show that your body type can influence your risk for developing colorectal cancer. Those with an "apple" shape and those carrying extra weight around the waist are at greatest risk.
Go Tobacco Free. Research shows a link between smoking and colorectal cancer (because inhaled or swallowed tobacco smoke transports carcinogens to the colon). Tobacco use has also been shown to increase polyp size.
Take Your Vitamin D. The American Cancer Society suggests that Vitamin D can reduce the risk of developing colorectal cancer by helping the body get rid of its own highly toxic digestive acid. Oral calcium supplements can also aid in reducing the risk of developing the cancer.
To learn more about preventing and treating colorectal cancer, visit and click on Cancer Topics, then Colon and Rectal Cancer.
This article provided courtesy of Penobscot Valley Hospital and Quorum Health Resources.



Colonoscopy has been the gold standard in colorectal cancer detection and prevention for a very long time -- but it's by no means perfect, and some people will do just about anything to avoid keeping that appointment. Now along comes a new, noninvasive way to screen for colon cancer -- stool DNA testing -- a procedure that remarkably enough promises accurate detection without the discomfort. The question that naturally follows, and the one I'm asking myself right now: Is it really effective?
I talked with David A. Ahlquist, MD, at the Mayo Clinic to get a better sense of what the new test offers. He first took me through a little background. Colorectal cancer is the second-leading cause of cancer deaths in the US, and colonoscopy -- the examination of your colon through insertion of a long, flexible tube -- so far represents our best weapon to catch and treat it early. But, he explained, colonoscopy may miss some cancers and precancerous lesions, particularly those on the right side of the colon, which has more nooks and crannies, making the search for polyps a challenge. The right side also has a greater likelihood of hard-to-detect flat polyps. (See Daily Health News,September 7, 2010, for more information.) In addition, colonoscopy is expensive. And, like any invasive procedure, it is associated with a risk for complications -- bleeding, perforation or sedation-related heart problems occur in a small percentage of patients.
Dr. Ahlquist and his research team found that this new stool DNA test identifies cells that are continuously shed from the surface of growths. It detects target lesions -- precancers and cancers, no matter if they are on the left or right side of the colon and no matter what stage, which has been a problem for colonoscopy. Because stool DNA testing effectively detects precancerous polyps, this test has the potential to prevent cancer, much like Pap smears have done for cervical cancer. Add to that the fact that it can be done at home and mailed in for analysis... and it requires no medication or diet restrictions.
Dr. Ahlquist presented these results at a May 2011 meeting of the American Gastroenterological Association. He and his collaborators at Exact Sciences, the company that developed the test, are about to embark on an FDA validation study across more than 30 medical centers throughout the US.
Dr. Ahlquist anticipates that the FDA validation study will be completed in 2012 and that the test could become available nationwide soon after. The Mayo Clinic has collaborated with Exact Sciences to develop the test, and that firm is already meeting with Medicare and major third-party payers to pave the way for coverage. Current guidelines call for colorectal cancer screening if you are 50 or older -- earlier if you are at high risk. For example, if you have inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), you face a greater risk for colorectal cancer, and Mayo researchers have confirmed that stool DNA testing can detect cancer and precancer in people with IBD.
I asked Dr. Ahlquist if he thought stool DNA testing could ever come to replace rather than complement colonoscopy. He believes the procedure must always be linked to colonoscopy, because those with positive test results will need to undergo colonoscopies both to locate the cancer or polyps that are present, and to remove them as well. But for initial screening, if it works as advertised, the stool test may well become the preferred choice for patients.
-Carole Jackson 
David A. Ahlquist, MD, gastroenterologist and professor of medicine, Mayo Clinic Medical School, Rochester, Minnesota.
Editor's note: Mayo Clinic and Dr. Ahlquist have a financial interest in the technology referenced in this article. In compliance with the Bayh-Dole Act, this technology has been licensed to Exact Sciences, and both Mayo Clinic and Dr. Ahlquist have received royalties. Mayo Clinic holds an equity position in Exact Sciences.



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