Fred Ruhland
What a Difference 3D Makes

 Our St. Mary’s Foundation Board of Directors, Vice Chair, Fred Ruhland, lost his beloved wife, Jena, to breast cancer.  After her passing and from that day forward, Fred was committed to honoring her legacy by serving on our Board and ensuring that the hospital, in which she received her excellent care, had the most up to date screening and diagnostic tools for women similar to Jena.  

Along with another anonymous donor, Fred funded the purchase of a 3D digital breast tomosynthesis (referred to lovingly as “tomo” by the people that use it with frequency) and a whole breast ultrasound machine. He said his Board involvement and the purchase, “all revolve around Jena’s memory”.   Over the last 18 months of the machines’ use, we have seen great strides in our early breast cancer detection ability and have seen over 267 cases with the ultrasound and 6,734 digital breast mammograms with the tomo.

“In the simplest terms, we are finding tumors smaller and earlier with the tomo,” says our Chief of Surgery, Pamela Lewis, MD.  “With the whole breast 3D ultrasound, we are finding small tumors in dense breasted-women, which is where mammography fails. When tumors are found smaller, this translates into less invasive treatments with surgery and radiotherapy as well as less chemotherapy.”

Here are the top four ground breaking benefits of the 3D technology:

1) Reduction in callbacks for abnormal mammograms – why is this good? Less time spent waiting and worrying and exposed to radiation with repeat tests

2) More accuracy and breast conservation with those spots that are cancerous – we can hone in and reduce unnecessary surface area cutting  

3) Patient experience remains unchanged with the introduction of the new machines – patient isn’t exposed to new tests that she may not have familiarity with prior

4) Higher sensitivity for detecting early stage cancers – detects cancers earlier even spots of 2mm in size

We have seen an upward trend in our early cancer detection rates since the whole breast ultrasound and tomo’s arrival at St. Mary’s.  Beyond those strides, the use of these machines is allowing our staff to break new ground on the future of care for breast cancer.  For Fred, this increase in detection and plotting the way for the future are all he needed to know that his money has been well spent on saving other’s lives. For more information about the work of St. Mary’s Foundation, sign up for our newsletter HERE, and like our Facebook page to stay updated on the latest happenings.