A 3D mammogram
Screening for breast cancer
Doctors and scientists agree that early detection is the best defense against breast cancer. Successful treatment and survival rates for breast cancer patients are dramatically affected by early detection of breast cancers. If we find cancer in its earliest stages, the chances of surviving is good. Until now, the best way to do that has been with digital mammography.
Digital Mammography uses a specially designed digital camera and a computer to produce an image that is displayed on a high-resolution computer monitor.
While digital mammography is still one of the most advanced technologies available today, it is only a two-dimensional picture of the breast. Since the breast is composed of pockets of dense tissue surrounded by fat, when x-rayed, it creates an image that looks something like a smoky haze. The overlapping tissue in the image makes it difficult to see tiny “spots”, called micro calcifications, and other subtle signs of early cancer.
In some cases, our radiologist may ask you to come back for a follow-up examination such as a diagnostic mammogram to rule out any suspicious areas.
An additional screening tool
For decades, doctors have been searching for a technology to help them find very small cancers or rule out “false positives” and reduce the number of women who are called back for a diagnostic mammogram.
Scientists have developed a new technology called breast tomosynthesis, which has been shown in clinical studies to be superior to digital mammography.
Breast tomosynthesis allows doctors to examine breast tissue one layer at a time. This exciting new technology in the fight against breast cancer. Breast tomosynthesis may be used in conjunction with traditional digital mammography as part of your annual screening mammogram to capture more breast images. Very low X-ray energy is used during the screening examination so your radiation exposure is safely below the American College of Radiology (ACR) guidelines. Using breast tomosynthesis and digital mammography together for screening has been proven to reduce “call-backs”.
Breast tomosynthesis may also be used for a diagnostic mammogram if you happen to be called back for this type of exam.
What is breast tomosynthesis?
Breast tomosynthesis uses high-powered computing to convert digital breast images into a stack of very thin layers or “slices”—building what is essentially a “3-dimensional mammogram”.
During the tomosynthesis part of the exam, the X-ray arm sweeps in a slight arc over the breast, taking multiple breast images in just seconds. A computer then produces a 3D image of your breast tissue in one-millimeter layers.
Now our radiologist can see breast tissue detail in a way never before possible. Instead of viewing all the complexities of your breast tissue in a flat image, the doctor can examine the tissue a millimeter at a time. Fine details are more clearly visible, no longer hidden by the tissue above and below.
What to expect during your exam?
A tomosynthesis exam is very similar to a traditional mammogram. Just as with a digital mammogram, the technologist will position you, compress your breast under a paddle and take images from different angles. A breast tomosynthesis exam may be used as a screening tool in conjunction with a traditional digital mammogram or may be used by itself for a diagnostic mammogram.
During the tomosynthesis portion of the exam, your breast will be under compression while the x-ray arm of the mammography machine makes a quick arc over the breast, taking a series of breast images at a number of angles. This will only take a few seconds and all of the images are viewed by the technologist at their computer workstation to ensure they have captured adequate images for review by our radiologist.
The whole procedure time should be approximately the same as that of a digital mammogram, The technologist sends your breast images electronically to our radiologist, who studies them and reports results directly to your physician.
EARLY DETECTION IS THE KEY
One in every eight women is diagnosed with
breast cancer. Because our primary goal has
always been to deliver the highest quality
care to our patients, we are adding breast
tomosynthesis to our breast health services.
We have chosen the Selenia® Dimensions®
breast tomosynthesis system from Hologic®
because we believe that it offers the best
In a “conventional” 2D mammogram there appears to be an area of concern that the doctor may want to further investigate with another biopsy. Looking at the same breast tissue in 3D “breast tomosynthesis” image slices, the doctor can now see that the tissue is in fact normal breast tissue that was overlapping in the traditional mammogram creating the illusion of an abnormal area. In this scenario this patient likely avoided a callback for an additional mammogram thanks to the tomosynthesis exam technology.