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Siteman’s New Mammography Van Hits the Road

Oct. 24, 2006 – After 12 years and 250,000 miles on the odometer, it was time for a new Siteman Mammography Van set of wheels. The Siteman Cancer Center at Barnes-Jewish Hospital and Washington University School of Medicine introduced a new mobile mammography van to St. Louis during an unveiling event Oct. 24. The new van is the first in the St. Louis area with digital mammography equipment and one of only 10 in the country.

The van is on the road at least five days a week and performs almost 8,000 mammograms each year with images read at Siteman by radiologists affiliated with Mallinckrodt Institute of Radiology.

"Screening mammography has contributed significantly to the decline in the number of deaths from breast cancer," says Susan Kraenzle, manager of the Joanne Knight Breast Health Center at Siteman. "The mobile program offers convenient screening in a community-based setting, helping many women who would not otherwise have access to mammograms."

Research at Siteman led to the inclusion of digital equipment on the van. Physicians from 33 sites in the United States and Canada participated in the Digital Mammographic Imaging Screening Trial (DMIST). Investigators at Washington University and Mallinckrodt Institute of Radiology interpreted both film and digital screening mammograms of each of the more than 3,300 volunteers enrolled at the Breast Health Center, the largest cohort in the study.

Results from the study, released in 2005, showed that conventional film mammography and digital mammography were equally effective. However, digital mammography performed better for the following groups: women under 50, women who are premenopausal and perimenopausal, and women with dense breasts.

"After the exciting results of the DMIST study were released, we launched a very aggressive initiative to provide this very important technology to the women we take care of," Kraenzle says. In addition to the mammography van, Siteman's Breast Health Center also has installed digital mammography equipment, making Siteman an all-digital mammography institution.

Graced with the Impressionistic "Poppies in the Field" painting, the old van was easy to spot. The new van sports a different look. Featuring the tagline "Every woman. Everywhere," it features original art from St. Louis artist and cancer survivor Laura Bailey. The van, funded by Celebrate Fitness and Share the Care with digital mammography technology funded by the Avon Foundation, will continue visiting churches, corporations, clinics, Schnucks stores and other locations.

Studies by Siteman show that many women in certain areas of St. Louis have increased rates of advanced breast cancer. As a result of this research, the mammography van now includes these areas on its route, going as far as providing free mammograms to qualifying women in need through funding from the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation, Judy Ride Foundation and Show-Me Healthy Women Program.

"Many women tell us they wouldn't have received a mammogram if our van had not been parked where they work, at the grocery stores where they shop or at a clinic near their homes," says Betty Hayward, mammography outreach coordinator since 1989. "It's exciting to see the program making a difference in these women's lives and for women to understand the importance of screenings and being active in their health care."

For more information about the mammography van program or to schedule a screening, call 314-747-7222 or 800-600-3606 toll free. To view a schedule of van visits to metro-area Schnucks stores, click here.