Advertisement

What are the benefits of digital breast tomosynthesis (3D mammography)?

Tomosynthesis is a new type of mammogram that yields three-dimensional images. The camera moves in an arc, and every few milliseconds it takes pictures every 15 degrees. Then the computer reconstructs all the data.

Amazingly it only takes a few extra seconds of compression and it can remove the complication that overlapping tissue can cause in traditional two-dimensional mammograms. Women are less likely to be called back for the false appearance of an abnormality when there's none there. Tomosynthesis increases accuracy in that it is harder for breast cancer or for something else to hide in the tissue.

Tomosynthesis may not be suitable for every woman but it's a powerful new tool in the fight against breast cancer.

Dr. Michael L. Paciorek, MD
Diagnostic Radiologist

One advancement in breast cancer screening is 3D mammography, which allows for more accurate screenings and fewer callbacks. In this video, Michael Paciorek, MD, of Mercy Health, explains why he believes 3D mammography will soon be the new standard.

Trinity Health is a Catholic health care organization that acts in accordance with the Catholic tradition and does not condone or support all practices covered in this site. In case of emergency call 911. This site is educational and not a substitute for professional medical advice, always seek the advice of a qualified healthcare provider.

With digital breast tomosynthesis (3D mammography), multiple studies have shown that the sensitivity for picking up breast cancers increases from 66% to 76%. The true positive rate, or specificity, increases from 81% to 89% and the beautiful thing about this is that the recall rate -- that’s the rate at which women have to come back for other images -- has been reduced by 43%. So, this is a great modality for putting a woman’s mind at rest when she gets her mammogram.

Trinity Health is a Catholic health care organization that acts in accordance with the Catholic tradition and does not condone or support all practices covered in this site. In case of emergency call 911. This site is educational and not a substitute for professional medical advice, always seek the advice of a qualified healthcare provider.

Dr. Anne C. Hoyt, MD
Diagnostic Radiologist

Breast tissue is a mixture of varying amounts of fatty (non-dense) tissue, which appears dark on a mammogram, and fibroglandular (dense) tissue, which appears white on a mammogram. Breast cancers, like dense fibroglandular tissue, appear white on a mammogram. About half of all women have more dense tissue than fatty tissue. This makes it more difficult to distinguish a potential tumor.

3D mammography improves the detection of invasive breast cancers by 40%. Additionally, 15% fewer women are asked to return for additional evaluation following a 3D mammogram than a conventional mammogram.

During 3D mammography, the breast is positioned and compressed in the same manner as conventional mammography. During a four-second scan, the system moves across the breast in a small arc obtaining several very-low-dose images from multiple angles. The images are processed into a 3D image of the breast. The radiologist can scroll through the breast layer by layer, removing dense tissue and revealing breast cancer that otherwise may have been hidden.

The FDA approved digital breast tomosynthesis in 2011.

This content originally appeared online at UCLA Health.

The benefits of digital breast tomosynthesis (3D mammography) were revealed in a study comparing the use of traditional digital mammography to 3D breast tomosynthesis in 13,856 women. Breast tomosynthesis resulted in:

  • 35% increase in cancer detection rates
  • 53% increase in detection rates of invasive cancers
  • 38% decline in call backs for additional images
  • 11% decline in biopsy rates

The amount of radiation is below the safety standards set forth by the government, and the benefit greatly outweighs any radiation exposure risk. The amount of radiation from a 3D mammogram is slightly higher than digital mammography and roughly equal to the radiation exposure of traditional mammography on film.

This content originally appeared on http://www.livehealthyaustin.com/

Continue Learning about Breast Cancer Diagnosis

What happens during a breast cancer biopsy?
Cancer Treatment Centers of America (CTCA)Cancer Treatment Centers of America (CTCA)
During a biopsy, your doctor removes cells from the breast and a pathologist inspects the cells unde...
More Answers
What are mixed breast tumors?
HealthyWomenHealthyWomen
Different kinds of breast cancer involve the lobes, lobules and/or ducts. Mixed breast tumors contai...
More Answers
Does Breast Cancer Screening Have Value?
Does Breast Cancer Screening Have Value?
What Should I Do If I Have Dense Breasts?
What Should I Do If I Have Dense Breasts?

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.