Wah-Zha-Zhi Health Center now offering 3-D mammography screenings for breast cancer

Photo caption: Wah-Zha-Zhi Health Center Mammography Technician Jacqualyn Nightengale (right) assists with a patient's mammography screening at the clinic in Pawhuska. Courtesy Photo

The Wah-Zha-Zhi Health Center is now offering state-of-the-art 3-D mammography screenings for breast cancer year-round to age-appropriate female patients.

Based in Pawhuska, the WHC recently installed a 3-D mammography unit in its radiology department and started screening patients on July 31, said Dr. Ron Shaw, the CEO of the WHC. For mammograms, 3-D technology offers a clearer picture and removes shadows to help see possible abnormalities clearly, he said.

Mammography screenings will be available during clinic weekday hours. Those who are average-risk patients are age 50 and up, Shaw said.

According to a news release, breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in Native American women. The center is one of the only tribal/Indian Health Service facilities in the state to offer this type of screening. The 3-D mammography unit provides more accurate and efficient exams with much clearer images for interpretation by the radiology specialist.

The $350,000 mammography unit purchase took place with the Osage Nation Health Authority Board’s approval and replaces a 2-D mobile mammography unit that made periodic visits while parked at the clinic.

“Early detection in breast cancer helps increase the chance of survival and provides our patients with more accurate findings,” Shaw said in the release. “Our facility continues to increase our services to our patients and we encourage all appropriately aged women to take advantage of this screening and make an appointment. In general, most women should begin screening at age 50 and those at increased risk of breast cancer may begin screening at an earlier age.”

Shaw said risk factors for breast cancer include immediate family history of breast cancer, which would include one’s mother, sister or daughter.

Those at average risk for breast cancer should receive a mammography screening every two years, Shaw said. “If patients don’t know their risk type, they’re encouraged to discuss it with their medical provider,” he added.

For a mammogram screening, the procedure takes 10-15 minutes and the results will be mailed to the patient within a week, said Jacqualyn Nightengale, who is the WHC mammography technician.

For a consultation or to make an appointment for a mammogram or other WHC services, call (918) 287-9300. For more information about the WHC, visit