New 3-D Mammography May Improve Breast Cancer Detection

3d mammography

Advancements in breast cancer prevention and treatment continue to be on the forefront of our minds, with an estimated 232,340 new female breast cancer diagnoses and 39,620 breast cancer deaths in the United States in 2013 alone. But what about breast cancer detection? An early cancer diagnosis is invaluable- the earlier cancer is diagnosed and treated, the more likely the patient is to have a full recovery. This is why the recent data supporting the ability of digital breast tomosynthesis, otherwise known as 3-D mammography, to increase the breast cancer detection rate is borderline revolutionary.

According to research, not only are dense breasts more likely to develop cancer, cancerous growths are also more difficult to detect in dense breasts- meaning cancer may go undetected for a longer period of time.

The most recent study, done in the Department of Radiology at Oslo University Hospital in Norway, compared a typical 2-D mammography to its new 3-D counterpart, tomosynthesis, on their abilities to detect cancer in the breasts of 25,547 women ages 50 to 69. Researchers used the American College of Radiology’s Breast Imaging-Reporting and Data System in order to classify breast density on a scale of 1 to 4, 1 being the least dense and 4 being the most dense. Imaging with tomosynthesis showed an increase from the 59% detection rate seen with mammography to 80% cancer detection in women with dense breasts. Yet tomosynthesis does not only benefit those with dense breast tissue. It also resulted in an increase from 68% to 84% detection in women on the opposite end of the spectrum, those classified as having “fatty” breast tissue.

Because of the proficiency of tomosynthesis in detecting breast cancer without the higher costs of other accurate imaging modalities such as MRI, and ultrasound- this new, “upgraded” mammography may help us to significantly increase cancer detection rates in women, and may become widely implemented in organized screening programs.

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