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Betty Mitchell, a Registered Nurse with the Breast Center at Mount Desert Island Hospital, has successfully completed the requirements to become a Certified MammaCare Clinical Breast Examiner. The MammaCare method of clinical breast examination is the recognized standard for teaching and performing clinical breast examinations.

Through one-on-one training, the MammaCare method of clinical breast exam provides women’s health care professionals the tactile training needed to enhance sensitivity of the clinician’s fingers. The method involves a palpation and search procedure that is designed to ensure contact of the trained fingers with every cubic millimeter of breast tissue.

MammaCare began in 1974 as a research project of the National Cancer Institute to develop a program for efficient manual breast exams. Training includes the use of tactually accurate breast models with simulated lesions that feel similar to the types of lumps surgeons consider suspicious. The method involves using the pads of the middle three fingers, three levels of pressure, and an organized search pattern on the breast.

MammaCare techniques have been extensively studied and reported in medical journals, and have been found to produce significantly more thorough and sensitive manual breast exams.

To ensure that all Breast Center patients benefit from the thorough examination technique she has learned, Ms. Mitchell has conducted training for the other members of the Breast Center nursing staff in the MammaCare method.

“Patients here are so grateful,” said Ms. Mitchell. “They often say how pleased they are with such a thorough breast exam. They feel that when they’ve left the Breast Center, they’ve had a pretty comprehensive exam.”

Ms. Mitchell not only provides thorough exams to her patients, she teaches them to conduct effective self-exams. “Most women are familiar with their own breasts,” explained Ms. Mitchell. “The training we provide to them helps more them accurately identify suspicious lumps earlier. And we now know that many breast cancers detected early can be cured.”

Dr. John Benson, the Breast Center's Medical Director, added that the detailed documentation from the exam is very helpful to radiologists interpreting mammograms. “It helps the interpreting radiologist correlate imaging findings with the clinical breast exam. I would encourage all women that come to the breast center to avail themselves of this wonderful service. It is provided at no additional charge."

Located on the Hospital’s second floor, the Breast Center at MDI Hospital provides breast health services including mammography, clinical breast exams, and education.

The Breast Center at MDI Hospital is open Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays. For information or to schedule an appointment, call 288-8435.

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