Study: 3D Mammograms May Detect More Breast Cancers
A recent study about 3D mammography published in The Journal of the American Medical Association has garnered significant attention from the national press for reporting that the exam may detect more breast cancers in women. The study, funded by Hologic (the manufacturer of the 3D imaging machine) and the National Cancer Institute, reported improved cancer detection as a result of the newer test (called “tomosynthesis”), finding cancer in 5.4 of every 1,000 scans compared to 4.2 with digital mammography alone. Some experts are even predicting that this test will some day replace mammograms as the standard of care.
The New York Times, The WashingtonPost, The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, Time, Bloomberg, CNN, and Reuters were just a few of the publications and networks that reported favorably about the new study.
Tomosynthesis (3D Mammography) is nearly identical to the routine mammogram most closely associated with testing for breast cancer, except that with the new test, the machine moves over the breast. The result is a 3D image that gives doctors better visibility through overlapping breast tissue, allowing for a more comprehensive view that can increase the appearance of small tumors previously difficult to detect in dense breast tissue. The 3D mammography exam can thus improve cancer detection and reduce false-positive and false-negative findings. Fewer women are being called back for additional imaging or for biopsies.
During tomosynthesis, your breast will be under the identical compression of a mammogram. While the X-ray tube makes an 8 second arc over your breasts, 15 low-dose images are obtained at incremental angles. These images are computer processed to make hundreds of thin 1 mm slices, which are viewed in 3D. This eliminates overlapping shadows and uncovers hidden lesions.
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