$1 M raised for new mammography scanner in Whitehorse

Whitehorse General Hospital has a new means of detecting breast cancer. Medical imaging technologist Annaka Sarek says the machine can help detect cancer 'a little bit earlier, when treatment is a little bit easier, and save lives in the Yukon.'

Device allows hospital to detect breast cancer earlier, says medical imaging technologist

This is the third mammography scanning machine that Run for Mom has helped pay for in Yukon, with each new machine improving upon, and replacing, the last. (Provided / Yukon Hospital Corporation )

Yukoners' work with ribbon campaigns, walks, runs, paddles, dances, Christmas tree auctions, sponsorship drives and every manner of fundraising has paid off. 

Those efforts helped pay for a new mammography scanner, which Whitehorse General Hospital has been using since Dec. 7.

Medical imaging technologist Annaka Sarek says the new device is more precise than the one it replaces. 

And that this could save lives.

"This new technology should allow us to hopefully catch those cancers just a little bit earlier, when treatment is a little bit easier, not so invasive, and save lives in the Yukon," Sarek said. 

About $1 million raised 

The tomosynthesis mammography machine is manufactured by General Electric in the United States. A package of renovations to Whitehorse's mammography exam suite, including the cost of the new machine and computer upgrades to help store the massive amount of data it collects, cost about $1 million. 

The new machine allows three-dimensional scanning, which is new to Yukon.

About half the funds were raised through Run for Mom events, a long-standing series of Yukon events held each Mother's Day in different communities, as well as in Atlin, B.C. 

The Yukon Hospital Foundation, through its donors and various events, helped raise the other half. 

'A marvelous achievement'

"Up-to-date medical equipment is so very necessary and so very expensive," said Brian Gillen, Chair of Yukon Hospital board of trustees. 

Val Pike, centre, thanked a 'very strong, dedicated group of women in Whitehorse,' as well as people in communities across Yukon as well as Atlin, B.C., who have contributed to fundraising. (Provided: Yukon Hospital Corproation)

"Having new technology like this mammography equipment available right here at home, is a marvellous achievement."

The new machine is already being used, and stands to be used quite a bit.

The Yukon Hospital Corporation estimates 2,800 mammogram scans are completed at Whitehorse General Hospital every year.

Val Pike, chair of the Run for Mom organizing committee in Yukon, thanked all those who have taken part in fundraising, including those in communities outside Whitehorse. 

"I would be very disappointed if I didn't mention the fact there is a very strong, dedicated group of women in Whitehorse who have dedicated hundreds and hundreds of hours towards Run for Mom and making sure this event takes place every year," she said.


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