Mammograms to detect breast cancer are recommended for women over the age of 40. It's up to breast imaging specialists to read the results to detect cancer. Houston Public Radio's Capella Tucker reports the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston is trying to increase the number of radiologists who specialize in breast imaging.
Images of the breast are more difficult to read. Doctor T-Khamapirad directs the breast imaging section of the department of radiology at UTMB.
"This mammogram is not black and white. There are different types of breast. Some of them very clean. You know, look like the breast composed of fat tissue. You can see all sorts of stuff in there. But when you come to the very young person or little bit of different type of person, especially someone who was on hormones, the breast is very dense and you know, those are the things we cannot really see through."
And therefore it's possible to miss the cancer. Khamapirad says only about ten percent of radiologists specialize in breast imaging. She says one issue is breast imaging in not an accredited program.
"We have a hard time to fill the positions. Because there are difficulty of the people who want to become a breast imager. Because of liability and things those are the main things, a lot of people really are afraid of being sued. Because you know breast imaging in the number one lawsuit at the present time. If you miss breast cancer that's it."
UTMB this year started a fellowship program to try to increase the number of breast imaging specialists. The increased training helps radiologists to detect breast cancer earlier. Doctor Louisea Deomampo's had a couple of friends who have had breast cancer. Deomampo has decided to help by improving her skills at reading breast images. She's entered UTMB's one year fellowship program.
"During my first few days here, well, honestly I couldn't see what they were seeing. But now I've come to, really taught be a lot and somehow I see."
Deomampo reads about 40 images a day. The fellowship program at UTMB will allow one radiologist to be trained each year in breast imaging. Breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death among women. Capella Tucker, Houston Public Radio News.