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Natural Awakenings Lehigh Valley

Advanced Imaging for Breast & Body: Compassionate, Comprehensive Care

Sep 30, 2011 09:44PM ● By Beth Davis


According to a Society for Women’s Health Research poll, breast cancer remains the single most feared disease among women. It comes as no surprise then that this fear keeps many women from taking breast health into their own hands. Advanced Imaging for Breast and Body (formerly Advanced Breast Care Imaging) in Allentown is out to change that with their compassionate and comprehensive approach to better breast health.

Christine Downing, executive director of Advanced Imaging for Breast and Body, began her career in women’s health about 20 years ago. Although she worked in many different capacities, there was something about mammography that touched her heart. “I would see the anxiety and look of fear on the faces of the women as they came in for a mammogram, and I didn’t understand why,” she says. “I began to question how we could better educate women and get the word out not to be fearful. It was something that really fueled me throughout my career.”

In 2005, she met surgeon, Dr. Mark Gittleman. At the time, the two of them talked about his desire to open a women’s health center that took a comprehensive approach to breast health; one that would coordinate care and offer everything under one roof—screening, diagnostics, ultrasound, surgery, etc. 

A few months after this initial conversation, he offered her the chance to help design, build and structure an imaging center that would encompass his dreams. And though she was happy in her current position, she knew it was an opportunity she couldn’t pass up. 

Downing was feeling a little intimidated about the idea of creating this center on her own, but then Gittleman told her, “I know you can do it.” And so she did. “It was the best project; the best inspiration,” says Downing. “I was able to take my 20 years of experience listening to women and create a space focused on their needs. It just came easy to me because I knew what made sense and what would be best for women.”

In October 2006, during Breast Cancer Awareness Month, what is now known as Advanced Imaging for Breast and Body opened under the leadership of medical director, Dr. Mark Gittleman. The goal, she says, was to not only create an environment that was sensitive to the needs of women, but also to offer women in the Lehigh Valley the most advanced imaging technology available.

The center offers a wide variety of services simply designed to make it easier and less stressful for women. “Having everything right here is so important to the comfort of our patients and helps relieve some of those anxious feelings.” 

Advanced Imaging for Breast and Body uses the latest technology to provide the highest level of diagnostic excellence and patient satisfaction. Digital mammography, for instance, captures computerized images of the breasts; sort of like a digital camera. Traditional mammography uses x-rays which have been associated with an increased risk. These digital pictures are sharper, show more detail and allow the radiologists to zoom-in and get a closer look at certain areas of the breasts without having to take additional pictures.

They also offer a HALO Breast Pap Test, which aspirates nipple fluid that will be screened for abnormal cells. The screening test does not diagnose breast cancer but helps determine an individuals risk level. 

Other services include breast MRI, nuclear breast scanning, PET Mammography (PEM), minimally invasive breast biopsies, breast, abdominal and pelvic ultrasound, and bone density testing. 

Understanding the stress involved with diagnostic procedures, Advanced Imaging provides on-site, board-certified radiologists who interpret each study and provide patients with immediate screening mammogram results and diagnostic test results within 24 hours.

In May 2009, the center expanded their services to include a treatment and wellness center. The HDR Brachytherapy option offered at Advanced Imaging is intended to target areas where the cancer is most likely to reoccur and limit the amount of exposure to healthy surrounding tissues, thus reducing the potential for side-effects to occur. 

Blossoms of Hope, is a new unique boutique within the center offering an array of products to inspire hope and provide comfort for breast cancer patients. Partnering with Strands of Hope at Millennia Salon, the center can provide wig, styling and head covering services that help that help clients feel good about themselves and maintain a positive attitude during the most difficult times of their treatment.

“We wanted the center to be different, and it is,” notes Downing. “It is a wonderful resource and option for women, but the real difference is in how we treat you.” In fact, hugs and handholding are a common occurrence at Advanced Imaging. “We know it can be scary, so it’s important for us to make their experience as pleasant as possible.”

For Downing, that feeling of fear is something she is all too familiar with. One month after opening the imaging center, she was diagnosed with breast cancer. “It made me stop and focus,” she recalls. “I had been building this great space for other people, and it ended up saving my life.”

She says the diagnosis also enabled her to take the next step. “It enabled me to truly help others with their path to detection because I’ve been there.”

And seeing the smiles on the faces of the patients as they leave lets Downing know she is certainly on the right path. “Breast cancer is prevalent and it’s not going away,” she states. “However, getting positive feedback from patients and making a difference in the life of someone just inspires us to do better.”

Advanced Imaging for Breast & Body is located at 250 Cetronia Road, Suite 102 in Allentown. For more information, call 610-366-0444 or visit