Memorial Regional Breast Care Center has become the first in the area to offer 3D mammography, or tomosynthesis, its parent company, Beacon Health System, announced Friday, April 4.
Center director Deb Leonakis answered the following questions:
Q: What is 3D mammography?
A. Breast tomosynthesis is the latest breakthrough in mammography. With 3D imaging you minimize the impact of overlapping breast tissue because the camera moves over the breast taking images from multiple angles. The images are combined to create a three-dimensional view of the entire breast.
Q: How is 3D mammography better?
A: Adding breast tomosynthesis to a conventional screening exam enables our radiologists to detect 40 percent to 50 percent more invasive cancers at an earlier stage, which impacts treatment and survival. Tomosynthesis also reduces the call back (false positive) rate by 30 percent, which provides less stress and anxiety for the patient.
Q: There have been studies finding that survival rates are no better when mammograms detect tumors. How will 3D mammography affect that?
A: We will detect cancers at an earlier stage, which is the key to survival. The Cleveland Clinic picked breast tomosynthesis as one of the Top 10 medical innovations for 2013 because, “It allows doctors to find cancer even earlier and with more accuracy than traditional 2D mammograms.”
Q: What are the risks associated with 3D mammography?
A: There is the risk of x-ray exposure; however, it is well below the level that generally causes adverse affects. Since digital breast tomosynthesis, like many medical exams, is not 100 percent accurate, there is the risk that the breast cancer may not be seen on the exam results.
Q: Who could benefit most from 3D mammography?
A: Patients that have dense breast tissue and patients who are high risk for developing breast cancer. These patients have a strong family or personal history of cancer, positive genetic testing or multiple risk factors. Breast density on a mammogram is considered to be a strong and independent risk factor for breast cancer. Compared to women with fatty breast tissue, women with dense breast tissue have a 5.3 times greater risk of developing breast cancer.