3-D mammograms offer clearer view of breast cancer

October 7, 2012 by Nicole Brochu, Sun Sentinel

Bringing life-like detail to a hospital near you: the 3-D mammogram, which doctors say is detecting breast cancer earlier and more accurately than traditional tests.

Approved last year by the , 3-D-equipped "tomosynthesis" machines are now available at some hospitals and diagnostic centers.

And while they look and feel like the standard, two-dimensional model, these high-tech, touch-screen devices are able to see more deeply and clearly into a woman's , detailing even the fatty or dense flesh that can disguise a lurking lump.

"If we can reduce false alarms by 30 percent, we are doing a tremendous job for our patients and our community," said Dr. Mary K. Hayes, medical director of women's imaging for the Memorial Healthcare System. "Because it's less anxiety, less lost and lower costs because we're not having to do all those additional tests. So the patient wins, the employer wins, and the family wins."

And by cutting down on false alarms, the more accurate screenings also are cutting down on the cost and distress that come with extra procedures such as screenings and biopsies.

The 2-D portion of tomosynthesis is typically covered by insurance, but most health plans don't cover the costs of the 3-D portion yet because the is relatively new, said a spokesman for Hologic, which manufactures the machines.

To help make the test more affordable, Memorial Regional and Memorial Hospital Miramar, Fla., are running a special throughout Month in October, offering tomosynthesis screenings - normally $135 - for $99 and regular mammograms for $50 for those without insurance.

At Bethesda Women's Health Center in Boynton Beach, Fla., which has offered tomosynthesis for the past two months, standard digital mammograms will be offered for $75 instead of the usual $100 throughout October. Tomosynthesis will cost another $50, all year-round.

Memorial Regional Hospital in Hollywood, Fla., was on the forefront of discovering just what tomosynthesis means in detecting cancers of the breast. In 2008 and 2009, it was one of 16 hospitals across the nation that participated in a Harvard University-led clinical trial of 3-D mammography.

The study found that tomosynthesis detects 15 percent more breast cancers and cuts false alarms by 30 percent when compared with the standard, two-dimensional digital mammograms - helping to persuade the FDA to give its nod.

"For us, it's a tool that allows us to do a better job for our patients," Hayes said.

In addition to capturing 2-D images like standard mammograms, the tomosynthesis camera also moves in an arc over the breast, taking 15 mini-pictures over four seconds to yield a more layered, detailed view of the tissue. Hologic, the company that manufactures the machines, likens the results to pages in a book, allowing radiologists multiple views of potentially problematic spots.

"Basically, you're getting more information - you're getting slice by slice" instead of a single composite, 2-D picture, said Bethesda radiologist Dr. Ariana Alvarez.

Mary Shallcross, 61, was sold on the concept after seeing a TV news story last year.

"I have really dense breasts, and so when I heard about this, I thought, this is the test for me," said Shallcross, who drove from her home in Miramar to Memorial Regional in Hollywood after learning it was, at the time, the only facility in Broward with tomosynthesis. "That's why I came all the way out here."

Two days later, Memorial's sister hospital, Memorial Hospital Miramar, began offering the 3-D .

Kristie Labonte, 39, had her first mammogram last week, and when the nurses at Memorial Regional told her about tomosynthesis, the Dania Beach, Fla., resident opted for the more high-tech exam.

"With 3-D, you usually think of movies or something," said Labonte, who has breast cancer in her family and recently lost a friend to the disease. "I think it's amazing what they can do now to detect it early."

Dr. Darlene Da Costa, another Bethesda radiologist, said tomosynthesis' early detection benefits are important in the fight against the deadly disease.

"All we want is to find early, as early as possible," Da Costa said. "So with this technology, we're able to save lives."

Explore further: Hospital gives first tomosynthesis mammograms in region this week

shares

Related Stories

Hospital gives first tomosynthesis mammograms in region this week

December 7, 2011
There is still a one in eight lifetime risk that a woman will develop breast cancer, and the best tool against the disease remains early detection. Now, Women & infants Hospital of Rhode Island has taken the breast cancer ...

Digital breast tomosynthesis cuts recall rates by 40 percent

May 3, 2012
Adding digital breast tomosynthesis to 2D mammography screening results in a 40% reduction in patient recall rates compared to routine screening mammography alone, a new study shows.

New technology offers the next generation of mammography

October 1, 2011
Breast cancer is the second most common type of cancer among women in the United States, with approximately 200,000 new diagnoses each year. Early detection is key in the treatment of breast cancer and the biggest advancement ...

3D technology takes next step beyond traditional mammography

April 20, 2012
MILWAUKEE - After already having been through breast cancer treatment, Michelle Luckiesh did not think twice when doctors at Waukesha Memorial Hospital told her they had a new mammography device that may be able to detect ...

Recommended for you

Vitamin C may encourage blood cancer stem cells to die

August 17, 2017
Vitamin C may "tell" faulty stem cells in the bone marrow to mature and die normally, instead of multiplying to cause blood cancers. This is the finding of a study led by researchers from Perlmutter Cancer Center at NYU Langone ...

Outdoor light at night linked with increased breast cancer risk in women

August 17, 2017
Women who live in areas with higher levels of outdoor light at night may be at higher risk for breast cancer than those living in areas with lower levels, according to a large long-term study from Harvard T.H. Chan School ...

Scientists develop novel immunotherapy technology for prostate cancer

August 17, 2017
A study led by scientists at The Wistar Institute describes a novel immunotherapeutic strategy for the treatment of cancer based on the use of synthetic DNA to directly encode protective antibodies against a cancer specific ...

Toxic formaldehyde is produced inside our own cells, scientists discover

August 16, 2017
New research has revealed that some of the toxin formaldehyde in our bodies does not come from our environment - it is a by-product of an essential reaction inside our own cells. This could provide new targets for developing ...

Cell cycle-blocking drugs can shrink tumors by enlisting immune system in attack on cancer

August 16, 2017
In the brief time that drugs known as CDK4/6 inhibitors have been approved for the treatment of metastatic breast cancer, doctors have made a startling observation: in certain patients, the drugs—designed to halt cancer ...

Researchers find 'switch' that turns on immune cells' tumor-killing ability

August 16, 2017
Molecular biologists led by Leonid Pobezinsky and his wife and research collaborator Elena Pobezinskaya at the University of Massachusetts Amherst have published results that for the first time show how a microRNA molecule ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.