Donors Help Bring Advanced Breast Cancer Screnings to Bismarck

Inventor Mark Stribling’s wife inspired him to create one of the newest breast examining technologies on the market today – the SOFIA Automated Breast Tomography system, a uniquely designed exam table used to screen for breast cancer.

Teresa Stribling is a high risk patient with a family history of breast cancer and dense breast tissue, meaning there is more connective tissue than fatty tissue. Stribling, President and CEO of iVu Imaging Corporation, said his wife would get a traditional mammogram every year and always receive a letter to schedule a second visit, followed by a diagnostic mammogram, ultrasound and biopsy.

“It was such a mess,” he said. “The impact on women going through this process is devastating because immediately they think they have cancer.”

Women in the Bismarck region now have access to one of only 14 of these systems in the world at Sanford Bismarck. Whole breast ultrasound with the SOFIA system is an option that can complement mammography for screening women who have extremely dense or heterogeneously dense breast tissues.

“The real purpose behind this is for women with dense breast tissue to have an alternative,” Stribling said.

Sanford Bismarck Radiologist Ted Fogarty, MD said he’s excited to use this state-of-the-art equipment. The system was just installed last month. Within the first two weeks Fogarty found suspicious findings on a patient and completed a biopsy for further analysis.

“Particularly for the upper west plains region, we are way ahead of the curve,” he said. “I would think in a decade either the federal government or every state is going to have breast density laws requiring disclosure of alternative screening options for women with density-impaired mammograms. To me, this is the device that works best as that alternative when costs and reproducibility are accounted.” Mammography is the only approved breast screening method, however, dense breast tissue and tumors both appear as solid white on a mammogram and make it difficult for radiologists to decipher between them. Manual ultrasounds and MRIs are capable of imaging abnormal anatomical features in dense breast tissue, but technicians must perform the ultrasound and MRIs are an expensive, time-consuming procedure.

The SOFIA Automated Breast Tomography system is designed to be more comfortable for women. Patients lie in the prone position and the breast is gently compressed by the woman’s torso just as if she were sleeping. Using sound waves instead of radiation, the system takes five minutes to capture tomographic images of each breast. Radiologists process the two-dimensional pictures to 3D and multi-planar reconstruction images for visualization and analysis.

Fogarty said generous donors and the staff of the Sanford Health Foundation deserve some credit for helping find breast cancer because they made purchase of the SOFIA possible. When he’s out in the community, patients often hug him in appreciation for his work, but he knows he’s successful because he has the tools he needs.

“Radiologists are kind of behind the scenes, but when we get out and participate in a community outreach event it’s amazing when someone says, ‘You were the one who found my cancer,’” he said. “It’s kind of humbling, as I am at the end of a long chain of care in finding that cancer. The thoughtful donors and community leaders in our Sanford Foundations deserve a pat on the back too for being at the beginning of that chain.”

For more information about Sanford Bismarck Cancer Center or to make a gift, visit or call the Sanford Health Foundation at (701) 323-8450.

Posted Date: December 2013

Donors Help Bring Advanced Breast Cancer Screnings to Bismarck

Women in the Bismarck area now have access to one of only 14 of these systems in the world. The SOFIA Automated Breast Tomography system is an option that can complement mammography for screening women who have dense breast tissues.