09 Aug
  • By The Rose

One Millimeter at a Time

Just how big is a millimeter? 24 millimeters make an inch.  The smallest distances the human eye can resolve is around 0.02 to 0.04 mm, approximately the width of a human hair.   A sheet of paper is typically between 0.07 mm and 0.18 mm thick, with ordinary printer paper or copy paper approximately a tenth of a millimeter thick.

In other words … a millimeter is minuscule.

That’s small.

Consider what a difference a millimeter could make in detecting early stage breast cancer. That’s the promise of 3D Tomosynthesis mammography. One millimeter at a time, this advanced technology allows the radiologist to find cancer at its beginning stages, cancers that often cannot be seen until they are much larger and cancers that can be easily hidden in dense breast tissue.

Some studies report up to a 40% increase in cancer detection rate, making this a powerful tool in finding early stage breast cancer when it’s most treatable.

I am so proud that The Rose is now able to offer 3D mammography and so thankful for the donors who made it possible for us to purchase these new mammography units. There’s no denying that these units are expensive, easily costing twice as much as a regular 2D unit. The software involves incredibly complex technology; 3D images required purchasing huge amounts of new ‘storage space’ within our IT system and just ‘reading’ the images meant adding new physician and technologist workstations.

3D at The Rose is big NEWS and transformational!

Even though 3D technology has been around for a while, until the past two years it was pretty much a luxury since its costs were not covered by insurance or Medicare. In 2015 Medicare approved it but many insurance companies haven’t caught up yet.

Thank goodness the reimbursement for 3D was changed in the last legislative session and come September 1, 2017, all insurances in Texas are required to include 3D .

Before 3D was covered by insurance, having to pay an additional sixty dollars per mammogram wasn’t a ‘big deal’ for most women with insurance. But we knew that for our uninsured women, sixty dollars might as well have been sixty thousand. They couldn’t even afford the basic cost of a mammogram. In our minds, it would never have been ‘right’ to offer 3D to some and not to all.

As proud as I am that we now have 3D mammography, to me the even BIGGER NEWS is that we are able to offer this advanced and lifesaving technology to insured and uninsured alike.

Key for our uninsured women was the Medicare approval. It meant that our larger founders would agree that 3D services for the uninsured and the additional costs could be included in our next year’s grant proposals. “Included” does not equate to additional funding but at least it’s included. So we face a yay/boo situation. Yay because that cost can be included in our grant budgets. Boo because it means we must raise more money: as much as $400,000 more annually.

So in Houston vernacular, we’ve been “hunkering down,” writing more grants, holding more fundraising events, and asking our incredibly generous donors to help even more. Little by little, we are finding those funds. Thank goodness for the people who champion our work and realize that few investments have the impact their gifts do at The Rose.

They understand that when we say our mission is to provide Access to Care for All, we mean “all.”

In the end, all means that every uninsured woman will have the same chance of survival as our insured women.

Now, that’s real news!

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