Breast-cancer screening via 3D mammograms finds slightly more cancers than standard digital mammography and requires fewer women to return for more testing, according to research in the new issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.
Also called digital mammography with tomosynthesis, 3D mammograms obtain a series of 15 low-dose, high-resolution images in a sweeping arc around the breast. This produces individual images of thin layers of breast tissue, resulting in a clearer, more comprehensive picture than a conventional digital mammogram.
The new JAMA study incorporates data from 13 medical centers before and after the facilities began using digital mammograms with tomosynthesis. The researchers found that 3D mammography detected one additional cancer for every 1,000 scans, which resulted in 15% fewer false alarms (women called back for more tests and then found not to have cancer).
The “slivers” of separate images obtained via 3D mammograms increase the accuracy of interpreting changes in breast tissue and helps radiologists (doctors who specialize in diagnosing and treating diseases and injuries by using medical imaging techniques) find breast cancers early in their development. Radiologists can combine the separate images into a three-dimensional picture to help them see inside the breast more clearly than with a standard mammogram.
The most significant finding of this study is that women have less chance of being called back for additional testing. The study was not designed to determine whether 3D mammograms can save more lives than standard digital mammograms.
Beginning at age 40, women at average risk should get annual mammograms and breast exams by a clinician. Talk to your physician about your breast cancer risk and 3D mammography.
The North Shore-LIJ Health System offers 3D mammograms at no additional charge. To make an appointment at one of North Shore-LIJ Imaging's 20-plus locations, call 1-855-377-3456.