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From the Rush Archives: National Mammography Day and the History of Mammography at Rush

by Nathalie Wheaton on 2020-10-15T08:00:00-05:00 in Archives, History | 0 Comments

-Post assisted by Rush Archives Work Study Student Kirsten Petrarca, Doctoral Student in Audiology, Rush University.

October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and the third Friday in October is recognized as National Mammography Day.

Mobile Mammography Unit, Rush Annual Report, 1986Mammography testing involves taking an x-ray of breast tissue. This test can be used to diagnose breast disease when abnormalities, such as a lump or thickening, are detected and to screen those who are asymptomatic.

Modern mammography methods were developed in the mid-1960s and first officially recommended by the American Cancer Society in 1976.

In 1986, Rush-Presbyterian-St. Luke’s Medical Center (RPSLMC)* partnered with the American Breast Screening Service to operate a mobile mammography van and provide screening services to patients in the northern and western suburbs and downtown locations. That same year, mammography testing also became available at Sheridan Road Hospital, a property of Rush at the time.

CAPTIONMobile mammography unit: X-rays are read by Medical Center radiologists, and women are notified of results by mail, Rush Annual Report, 1986. [1]

Twenty years earlier, Rush's historic Presbyterian-St. Luke's Hospital* was an early leader in developing training programs in mammography. The Fall 1966 issue of PSLH's newsletter, The Review, includes a piece, "Establish Cancer Training Center." [2]

CAPTION: Franklin S. Alcorn, MD, discusses aspects of the radiographic techniques involved in mammography with student physicians, 1966. 

From The Review, Fall 1966:

"...A program to train midwest radiologists, radiologic residents and technicians in the early detection of breast cancer was recently instituted at Presbyterian-St. Luke’s Hospital under a grant from the Public Health Service of the U. S. Department of Health, Education and Welfare. This is one of ten medical institutions throughout the United States to offer a training program in mammography, an important diagnostic aid in the fight to control cancer..." 

"...The three-day course, under the direction of Franklin S. Alcorn, MD, attending radiologist, is given approximately twice a month. In addition to members of the radiology staff, the faculty also includes hospital surgeons and pathologists. Training does not end after three days, however. Upon return to their own institutions, physicians are requested to return from 25 to 100 films for evaluation. This includes not only technique and quality of the film, but also comments on their interpretation, especially when an error has occurred..."

"...The program will continue for a three-year period and it is hoped that this mammography center will be able to train radiologists and technicians not only in metropolitan Chicago but throughout Illinois and surrounding states..."

Over the years, breast imaging tools and techniques have continued to advance. Today's Breast Imaging Services Center at Rush is designated as a Breast Imaging Center of Excellence by the American College of Radiology and serves several Rush locations. To learn more about Rush's Breast Imaging Services Center:

Want to learn more about the history of Rush or the Rush Archives collections? Explore the Rush Archives website, or contact the archivist, Nathalie Wheaton, MSLS.

All documents and photographs belong to the records collections of Rush University Medical Center Archives, Chicago, Ill. Contact the archivist for permissions and full citations.

*Presbyterian Hospital and St. Luke's Hospital merged in 1956, to become Presbyterian-St. Luke's Hospital. Presbyterian-St. Luke’s Hospital merged with the newly reorganized Rush Medical College in 1969, to become Rush-Presbyterian-St. Luke’s Medical Center (RPSLMC). RPSLMC was renamed Rush University Medical Center in 2003, to better reflect its status as a leading academic research center.  



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