LOS BANOS — Apex Medical Group recently brought a piece of equipment to town that will make it easier to diagnose breast cancer before it turns deadly.
Apex 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 Apex and employs more than 60 people. "I've been waiting since 2011 to have this machine."
The machine is expensive. For the past few years, Memorial Hospital in Los Banos has held fundraisers, bringing in thousands of dollars, to pay for digital mammography equipment, and it still needs more money to make the purchase.
Devireddy said that for Apex the issue was space rather than money. Apex, 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 get a more detailed view of the breasts, and lab analysis can be done faster. Perry said that with film mammography, Apex would often have to mail images out of town. The digital images can be sent instantly, decreasing the time patients must wait for results.
The biggest advantage of digital mammography, Perry said, is that 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-fashioned 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."
Despite the upgrade in technology, Devireddy and Perry said it is still extremely important for women to perform regular self-exams.
Apex has had the digital mammography machine for just a week, Perry said, and already many patients per day have made use of it.