Digital 3D Breast Cancer Screening Technology Now Available to Patients
A digital breast cancer screening technology once available only for research is now being used to better detect breast cancer at Magee-Womens Hospital of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC). The 3-D digital imaging technique will hopefully find more cancers with fewer false-positives, says Margarita Zuley MD, director of breast imaging at Magee.
Digital tomosynthesis creates a 3-dimensional picture of the breast using x-rays. The complete reconstruction of the breast gives radiologists the ability to identify certain abnormalities which can be more difficult to detect with traditional 2D digital mammography screening. The technology improves upon standard mammography by taking multiple x-ray pictures of each breast from many angles, instead of from just two directions.
Tomosynthesis will also be more comfortable for patients as only a little pressure is applied to the breast during the procedure, versus the compression needed for traditional mammograms.
“This is the biggest advance we’ve seen in breast imaging in a long time, and we are excited to provide it to our patients,” said Dr. Zuley.
Researchers at Magee played a pivotal role in developing the technology, notes Dr. Jules Sumkin DO, chief of radiology. Tomosynthesis screening significantly reduces the number of false-positive diagnosis, limiting the number of additional work-ups and potentially unnecessary biopsies. Although digital mammography has made it easier to see signs of cancer earlier, approximately 10% of women who are screened are recalled for more tests, finds a study conducted earlier this year.
Tomosynthesis may also be able to detect certain types of cancer lesions that are harder to detect on standard mammograms, particularly in women with dense breast tissue.
Initially, tomosynthesis digital breast cancer screening will be offered to select patients who have a clinical complaint or to those for whom traditional mammograms are inconclusive. Dr. Zuley hopes that the technology will be available for more widespread breast cancer diagnosis and screening in the near future.