What is 3D mammography?
We know that early detection of breast cancer leads to better outcomes for patients. Mammograms are the best way to screen for asympomatic breast cancer which is why women are encouraged to be screened on a regular basis after age 40 or even earlier if that patient is at higher than average risk for breast cancer (such as the BRCA gene mutation, first degree relative with premenopausal breast cancer, history of chest radiation and other indications).
3D mammogram (digital breast tomosynthesis) is an imaging test that takes a series of low dose images through the breast instead of just single image X-ray, creating a three-dimensional image set of the breast.
We are excited to bring advanced 3D mammography to AdventHealth Waterman because it will provide a more accurate and more sensitive test for the detection of breast cancer, especially in women with dense breasts.
With tomosynthesis, an x-ray arm sweeps over the breast taking multiple images through the breast layer by layer in seconds as opposed to one single summary x-ray. This sweep of images gives us a volume of data so that we can see the breast in a series of slices. It’s like looking through the breast like pages of a book as opposed to just a singular summary image that can obscure cancers due to overlapping tissues. This enables the radiologist to more readily pick up signs of cancer at an early stage and also helps reduce unnecessary callbacks for additional views because we can more confidently distinguish a density caused by tissue overlap versus a true abnormality. It has been shown to be beneficial in women of all ages and breast densities, but particularly beneficial in dense breasts.
At Waterman, we are also fortunate to be getting the newest 3D mammography technology, called “Genius 3D Mammography”, by Hologic. This allows for a higher resolution 3D mammogram in a shorter period of time than the 2D mammogram, so that the patient is in compression for a shorter period of time with each image. For patients, the mammogram compression is the same as conventional mammograms, but it will be done more quickly so it’s a more comfortable experience. Because of the shorter exposure, this technology also has the benefit of a lower radiation dose than 2D mammograms.
With this technology, research has shown there is about a 40 percent improvement in the detection of invasive cancers. Because we can see the tissue with thinner slices and higher resolution, 3D mammograms are more accurate and have a reduced “false positive rate”, requiring call-backs from screening for additional imaging to sort out. Call-backs take time out of patients’ lives, add medical costs and cause increased anxiety for the patient. We are happy that we can reduce the callback rate due to reducing these false positives which are mostly caused by overlapping tissues on the 2D mammogram.
Breast cancer is increasingly a very curable, manageable disease because of earlier detection with regular screening combined with advancements in medical care. Tomosynthesis allows us to detect breast cancer earlier in many cases, so patients can get the treatment they need and then go on with their lives.
I was trained as a general radiologist first and did an additional year-long fellowship in breast imaging. I chose this specialty because I found it most rewarding to work with women and help them in their fight against breast cancer. I also love being able to reassure the majority of women that there is no evidence of breast cancer as well. Here at Waterman, we provide comprehensive breast care, and can take care of everything one may need including all modalities of imaging, needle biopsy, breast surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy on site.
For more Information
Dr. Patricia Geraghty, Radiologist
3D Mammography Specialist AdventHealth Waterman
1000 Waterman Way
Tavares, FL. 32778