The American College of Radiology has just recognised a local centre in South Africa as having world-class standards, naming them the first and only Breast Imaging Centre of Excellence in Africa!
Johannesburg, South Africa (1 March 2022) – The largest representative body for radiology worldwide, the American College of Radiology, has recently granted full accreditation to Parklane Radiology as Africa’s first and only Breast Imaging Centre of Excellence (BICOE).
“We congratulate interventional and diagnostic radiologist Dr Peter Schoub and the team at Parklane Radiology’s Women’s Wellness Centre, which is situated opposite Netcare Park Lane Hospital, on this landmark achievement for breast health on the continent. This accreditation recognises their hard work in building a service that meets the stringent international standards in this important discipline,” says Jacques du Plessis, managing director of Netcare’s hospital division.
“On average, one in eight women will develop breast cancer. Regular, precise and reliable imaging can help save lives through early identification and treatment of breast cancer, but the first crucial step is increasing public awareness of the importance of screening,” says Dr Schoub.
The stringent requirements of the American College of Radiology (ACR) process for accreditation as a Breast Imaging Centre of Excellence encompass all breast imaging modalities, namely breast MRI (magnetic resonance imaging), mammography, stereotactic biopsy, and breast ultrasound. To qualify, Parklane Radiology needed to demonstrate a high degree of proficiency in each of these types of imaging in order to earn a three year ACR accreditation for each individual modality.
The ACR’s evaluation of each modality includes criteria for technical aspects relating to the equipment and its calibration for producing accurate and detailed images and the radiographers, radiologists, operators, and technicians’ qualifications and skills. Parklane Radiology first achieved accreditation for breast MRI in 2017, then for mammography in 2018, stereotactic biopsy in 2019 and, finally, breast ultrasound in 2021.
Early detection and the need for effective imaging
Limited breast health diagnosis and treatment facilities on the continent, unfortunately, mean that for too many people, breast cancer is only detected once it is at a more advanced stage.
“This can make it harder, and often more resource-intensive, to treat,” Dr Schoub says.
“We aim to help improve survival rates by encouraging more women to have regular breast screenings and to be aware if their family history and risk factors require closer monitoring.”
Parklane Radiology works closely with multi-disciplinary teams at breast units, including the internationally accredited Netcare Milpark Breast Care Centre of Excellence headed by Professor Carol-Ann Benn, and the team at Netcare Linksfield Hospital to provide people with breast cancer with a comprehensive and caring quality service.
In combination with the latest technology at Parklane Radiology and its Women’s Wellness Centre, the team’s expertise offers accuracy in diagnosis and image-guided interventions, including pre-treatment breast MRI for staging of cancer and localisation before surgery.
Mammograms for women over 40
A mammogram is an x-ray of the breasts used to screen for breast cancer.
“While self-examination remains important, more than half of breast cancers cannot be detected by self-examination, and therefore mammograms are recommended annually for all women over the age of 40. The ACR assessment for this modality requires detailed quality assurance measures confirming that the equipment and practitioners are reliably able to detect extremely small and subtle abnormalities,” Dr Schoub says.
Abnormality detected? What’s next?
If a mammogram indicates abnormal tissue, other types of imaging may be required to reach a diagnosis and help provide further clarity on the way forward for treating the condition.
“Breast ultrasound is a complimentary screening to mammograms which can differentiate fluid-filled cysts from solid lumps. The latest ultrasound equipment we use can also reveal whether a biopsy of a lump is necessary,” Dr Schoub explains.
“An abnormality that is visible only on a mammogram, which cannot be felt in a physical examination or be seen on ultrasound, has to be targeted for biopsy using the mammogram equipment to guide us. This procedure, known as a stereotactic biopsy, is essential for the diagnosis of cancers detected on mammograms and sensitive enough to detect the tiny structures of ductal carcinoma in situ [DCIS].
Early detection for women at higher risk
The most accurate form of breast imaging is MRI, which can pick up cancers and DCIS, the most common malignant cause of microcalcifications in breast tissue, undetectable on mammograms or ultrasound.
“For women at higher risk of developing breast cancer, MRI is particularly helpful in detecting aggressive cancers at an earlier stage. These scans are also useful for determining the stage of newly diagnosed breast cancers, as well as for further non-invasive exploration where a mammogram and ultrasound are inconclusive,” Dr Schoub adds.
“Over and above these clinical aspects, we have built a warm and welcoming setting with practitioners and staff who are understanding, sensitive and professional to optimally and compassionately support women visiting us for breast health screening, imaging and procedures.
“Our recognition as a Breast Imaging Centre of Excellence could not have been achieved without the caring, hard work, dedication to our patients, and initiative of every member of the Parklane Radiology team. We thank our many patients for inspiring us, and we feel privileged to have been a part of the breast health journey of so many women over the past 12 years, and to provide them with world-class quality service in the years ahead,” Dr Schoub concludes.
More breast health awareness information is available on https://www.mammogram.co.za/.