Last week Apex Medical Group brought a piece of equipment to Los Banos that will may make it easier to diagnose women with a seemingly increasingly-common disease before it turns deadly.
The organization is the first in the city to have a digital mammography machine.
"The technology, we've been having this for a while so it's nothing new. But in Los Banos, there's been film only," said Dr. Karthikeya Devireddy, who heads the medical organization and employs more than 60 people. "I've been waiting since 2011 to have this machine."
The machinery, which detects breast cancer, is expensive. For the past few years Memorial Hospital, Los Banos has held fundraisers bringing in thousands of dollars for digital mammography equipment and the facility still needs more money to make the purchase.
However, Devireddy said for Apex the issue was space rather than money. The facility, at 311 W. I St., recently expanded from 9,300 square feet to 18,000 square feet. With more space, Apex is busy expanding its services.
Debbie Perry, an administrator at Apex, said digital mammography allows physicians to have a more detailed view of the breasts and lab analysis can be done faster. Perry said with film mammography, Apex would often have to mail images out of town. She said the digital images can be sent instantly, decreasing the amount of time patients are waiting for results.
Perry said the biggest advantage of digital mammography is it cuts down on the number of times the breast has to be compressed during a mammogram.
"The way I as a woman look at it, with digital it sees more right away, it detects more right away and I don't have to come back," Perry said. "The old-fashion way, you sit down and wait while (the technician) goes and looks at the film. And I'm thinking do I need other views, do I need to take something else, is this not right?
"When it's not digital it's way more complicated. You're sitting there thinking, 'I hope she doesn't have to take more shots.' It's uncomfortable."
Devireddy and Perry said despite the upgrade in technology, it is still extremely important for women to perform regular self-exams.
Perry said although Apex has only had the digital mammography technology for a week, many patients per day have made use of it already.