Even though it has been estimated that a woman born in the United States today has a 1 in 8 chance of developing some form of breast cancer during their lifetime, the five-year survival rate is nearly 100% when breast cancer is detected early. In order to improve our own detection rate, Door County Medical Center recently upgraded to 3D mammography. “I am incredibly excited that we have this technology,” says DCMC’s Diagnostic Imaging Director, Amanda Feldbruegge, “Because of the greater detail that 3D mammography provides, the early detection rate is far higher. So, we are going to be able to detect cancers much sooner, and at a much smaller size. As a result, doctors will be able to start treatment sooner, which will result in better outcomes for patients.”
How Does 3D Mammography Work?
Three-dimensional (3D) mammography, also known as tomosynthesis, is a type of digital mammography that, instead of taking a flat 2D image of breast tissue, obtains multiple images and then creates a 2D composite, formed from the images; essentially taking “pictures of thin ‘slices’ of the breast from different angles and [using] computer software…to reconstruct an image.” One common way to describe the process is to compare the 3D images to the pages of a book, which allows doctors to examine breast tissue page by page.
Fewer Cancers Missed
It has been reported that “as many as 20% of breast cancers will be missed by 2D mammography.” 2D mammography compresses the complex layers of breast tissue into a single visual plane. As a result, overlapping layers of tissue occasionally obscure important details. This can lead to ambiguous results, false positives, or even a missed diagnosis. Because 3D mammography allows doctors to evaluate the breast one layer at a time, the tissue above or below no longer obscures the hidden details that lead to the detection of an abnormality. In fact, 3D mammography has been shown to detect on average 41% more invasive breast cancers than 2D mammography.
Less invasive treatments
Catching cancer early means less invasive treatments. It means that the likelihood of a mastectomy is greatly reduced. It also means the number of unnecessary biopsies and the area involved in a lumpectomy is reduced as well. Additionally, the radiation dose is the same as a 2D machine.
Reduced Callback Rate
3D mammography results in fewer false positives and fewer callbacks. In 2016, DCMC performed 3,200 mammograms. “With 2D mammography,” says Ms. Feldbruegge, “our call back rate was around 5%—a call back doesn’t necessarily mean there is an area of concern, but that there is an area of change from the previous mammogram—so about 5% percent of our patients were asked to return for additional imaging; that’s roughly 160 patients a year.” In fact, according to numerous studies, 3D mammography can reduce callbacks by as much as 40%. “We expect our callback rate to decrease.”
DCMC already offers 3D mammography! For more information on 3D mammography and The GeniusTM 3D MammographyTM Exam, please visit: http://www.hologic.com/products/imaging/mammography. For more information on DCMC’s Women’s Center, please visit: http://dcmedical.org/Medical-Services/Womens-Care.