South Sound Radiology: A Breast Center of Excellence in Thurston County

Getting screened is your best defense against breast cancer.


South Sound Radiology was named a Breast Center of Excellence.
South Sound Radiology was named a Breast Center of Excellence the American College of Radiology.

One in eight women who reach the age of 80 or older can expect to develop an invasive form of breast cancer in her lifetime. While there are some risk factors such as diet and exercise that can be controlled, a woman’s best defense against breast cancer is getting screened and getting screened often.

Advancements in Breast Cancer Screening

As technology continues to advance, the way doctors screen for breast cancer continues to change. In the early 2000s, 2D digital imaging was proven more effective at detecting breast cancer than traditional film-screen, and now, some 10 years later, 3D imaging has further improved detection, providing doctors with clearer, more detailed images of the entire breast.

In 2011 the United States Food and Drug Administration approved the use of 3D imaging for breast cancer screening. Just three years later in June of 2014, South Sound Radiology in Olympia became one of the first imaging centers in the South Sound to offer 3D mammography to its patients. South Sound Radiology’s Medical Director of Breast Imaging, Dr. Lawrence N. Bennett, says there are many benefits to 3D imaging, the most important being the 3D scan’s ability to detect some breast cancers that 2D digital imaging and film-screening cannot and more women are getting early treatment before the cancer has a chance to spread.

In addition to detecting more forms of breast cancer in its earliest stages, 3D mammography also helps reduce callback rates, which is good for patients. The more detailed scans offer radiologists a clearer picture to examine and fewer questions to answer, thus we have a much lower callback rate.

A 2D scan (left) and a 3D scan (right) are shown side by side here.
A 2D scan (left) and a 3D scan (right) are shown side by side here.

How exactly does 3D imaging make such a big difference when it comes to screening for breast cancer? Jennifer Cokl, South Sound Radiology’s Breast Center manager, says with 3D imaging, a series of photos is taken to generate the 3D image. “The X-Ray camera sweeps in an arch pattern above the breast,” says Cokl. The layered images allow the radiologist to see what’s happening inside the breast better than before with 2D.

For the team at South Sound Radiology, being able to offer patients 3D mammography is just one example of how the doctors and technologists all strive to offer the best care possible to our local community. Going above and beyond in all that they do, South Sound Radiology is the only center of its kind in the entire South Sound backed by a Breast Center of Excellence accreditation from the American College of Radiology.

Schedule Your First Mammogram

But women can only benefit from South Sound Radiology’s top-notch care if they come in for their annual screening. While getting screened can’t prevent breast cancer, it does increase the opportunity for early detection, making regular screenings a woman’s best defense against invasive forms of breast cancer.

Getting screened is your best defense against breast cancer.
Getting screened is your best defense against breast cancer.

Dr. Bennett advises that women start getting annual mammograms beginning at age 40. While the previous school of thought recommended age 50 as the start time for yearly mammograms, new research and studies show that woman should start screening at 40. If you have a positive family history of breast cancer, you should talk to your primary care provider about what the appropriate screening is for you. As for when you should stop getting screened? “Historically, incidence of breast cancer is still increasing as you get older,” explains Dr. Bennett. “What you want to do is keep screening on an annual basis as long as you continue to live an active lifestyle.”

Women with a family history of breast cancer have an increased risk of developing the disease, but even if your mom or aunt didn’t have breast cancer, that doesn’t mean you’re in the clear. “Seventy percent of the women we diagnose have a negative family history,” says Dr. Bennett. It’s important not to let a negative family history deter you from getting screened.

Your first mammogram may be a little bit awkward. The exam is quick and virtually painless. During the procedure, which takes a total of five minutes, the breast is placed on the imaging machine and is gently compressed with a paddle that helps spread and flatten the breast. By spreading and flattening the tissue, the imaging machine is able to get its best read possible. During the exam, four scans, two of each breast, are made, and each lasts a quick four seconds. From the time you arrive at South Sound Radiology for your mammogram to the time you leave is a total of about 30 minutes — it’s quick.

What’s more, annual screenings are covered by insurance and referrals are not required. Getting screened for breast cancer is simpler than going in for a teeth cleaning.

Your best line of defense is getting annual screenings.

Dr. Bennett and other health care professionals will come together on Thursday, September 24 for this year's Every Woman Counts event.
Dr. Bennett and other health care professionals will come together on Thursday, September 24 for this year’s Every Woman Counts event.

Stay Connected

Jeannette Lee, from South Sound Radiology’s Marketing and Business Development, says in addition to getting screened annually, it’s important for women to feel supported and connected, which is why she encourages Thurston County-area women to join South Sound Radiology on Thursday, September 24 from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. for their annual Every Woman Counts event. This popular, free event features a presentation from Dr. Bennett on breast health, a nutritional presentation from naturopathic physician Dr. Chad Aschtgen, ND and an educational talk on the science and pathology of breast cancer with Dr. Kevin Long, MD. No registration is necessary and food and beverages will be available. To register for the event, follow the link here:

For more information about South Sound Radiology — or to schedule a mammogram — visit South Sound Radiology’s website,, or call 360-493-4600.


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