Breast imaging: Leading by example

The radiology subspecialty of breast imaging has its problems, not least the discord it deals with every day over screening scheduling.

Yet it’s still an exemplary standard-bearer in cancer care. A lot of other imaging subspecialties would take on its relatively minor headaches in order to enjoy its undeniably great strengths.

Consider. Lately people have been talking about coming up with “a mammogram for the pancreas” and a “breast-imaging type of protocol” for the prostate.

Meanwhile, breast radiology has become confident enough in its own track record that some of its practitioners are volunteering it to lead all of medical imaging into the cloud.

As for patients, they’re voting with their feet. Most women keep up with their screening schedule even after going through the awful, often-avoidable ordeal of a false positive.

Of course, there’s always room for improvement. No team riding high in first place ever stayed there by playing not to lose rather than playing to win.

Which is why it seems likely, based on past performance, that breast imaging will find a way to up its game in patient communications, including raising women’s awareness of what breast density implies for cancer risk as well for choice of screening options.

It also seems likely the subspecialty will remain up to the task of serving the anxious faces behind some sobering statistics:

By the end of this year, almost a quarter-million new cases of invasive breast cancer will have been diagnosed. More than 40,000 women will have died of the disease.

So there’s still a lot of work to do.

Keep doing what you’ve been doing, breast imaging, and don’t stop working on those weak spots.

Somebody has to push medical imaging forward, and you’re just the subspecialty for the job.