January 2009 was no different to any other January. I entered 2009 ready to pursue my academic interest in nuclear medicine as usual, but by early March everything had changed. A new strategy imposed by my university (University of Salford) resulted in a major emphasis on research and a focusing of research efforts in my department. By mid 2009 we had concentrated our departmental diagnostic imaging research into two areas: breast cancer diagnosis using mammography; and the optimisation of dose, image quality and lesion detection performance using CT and computer-based x-ray imaging methods. It is now February 2015. We have just received ‘narrative feedback’ from the UK government-led Research Excellent Framework (REF); REF is a nationwide exercise in which the quality of research is assessed in all UK universities, for funding purposes. Our diagnostic imaging research has been classified as ‘world leading’; you cannot get any better than this in the REF exercise.
The department in which I work publishes around 20 journal papers a year, many of which are about breast cancer. Our breast cancer papers comprise a mixture of qualitative and quantitative studies, reflecting the academic expertise held by our academic staff, PhD / MSc students and clinical partners. This fairly unique mix of qualitative and quantitative research puts us in a powerful position to generate new knowledge and challenge practice, as we are able to investigate a broad range of mammography-related technical, clinical and socio-emotional issues.
The book ‘Digital mammography – a holistic approach’ can only be described as a spin-off from our breast cancer research. The original conception was borne out of my own ignorance; on moving from nuclear medicine to mammography I needed to read lots and learn new things. I was surprised how few up-to-date textbooks existed to help me in my quest; a gap in the market was therefore identified. The next major catalyst for the book came from the motivation of Claire Mercer and Judith Kelly, who became co-editors with me. Claire and Judith hold senior positions in the NHS Breast Screening Programme; they are highly experienced in their respective areas of practice. Initial conversations about the book helped shape its tone and contents, and two important information sources resulted in the introduction of fresh ideas and new directions. Firstly, conversations I had with Professor Solveig Hofvind, Head of the Norwegian Breast Screening Service, resulted in a major European dimension being introduced into the book. Second, and perhaps more significantly, inspiration came from an evening that Judith, Claire and I spent with Sue Cliffe and her husband Colin. Sue told us her story; she is a breast cancer survivor. Her story commenced with her finding a lump and mammography imaging, it then moved through mastectomy, chemotherapy, radiotherapy, a lot of emotional turmoil and eventually her return to work. Sue, with help from Colin, wrote the first chapter in the book to be completed and it inspired the client-(woman) focused section of the book (section 2). I believe this section of the book is quite unique. Sue’s chapter inspired chapters about psychology, emotional intelligence, client-practitioner interactions, pain in mammography, tissue viability / skin tearing in mammography and of course the use of digital health technology and social media to support breast screening. The latter chapter was written by clinical practitioners and university researchers who developed the social network for women attending mammography breast screening (WOMMEN – Word Of Mouth Mammography E Networks).
The level of commitment given by the authors was terrific and I cannot thank them enough. I am extremely grateful to Judith and Claire for the work they have done as editors. Aside coordination, the editors reviewed and edited [draft] chapters up to five times each. Everything is done now; we have a book of 327 pages in length. It will be published in early March 2015.
Professor Peter Hogg: University of Salford, Manchester, UK; Karolinska Institute, Stockholm, Sweden
About the guest author
This week’s guest author, Professor Peter Hogg, is an adviser on the WOMMeN steering group. He is a rare breed of academic who has a phenomenal brain teamed with a huge generosity of spirit and a modicum of modesty. Outcome – an incredible mentor. Many of us are indebted to him for his support and encouragement. He likes cats too!