Can Tomosynthesis Find Breast Cancer Better Than Mammography?
3-D Mammogram Technology offers fewer false positives, up to 15% better detection
Tomosynthesis allows for 3D imaging using X-Ray technology that is less invasive or expensive than CT scanning.
Tomosynthesis is most commonly used in 3-D mammography because the tomography process can create a three dimensional view that can doctors can then examine in a virtual environment, so suspected tumors and masses in the breast can be detected with a higher degree of accuracy. Compared to two dimensional mammograms, 3D mammography through tomosynthesis offers less radiation exposure, and the digital nature of the process allows imaging to be sent to specialists worldwide. There are also advantages to the patient, since the procedure allows for less painful methods of "locking down" the breast for the scan, and in some women breast tissue is denser, which makes traditional mammograms harder to read.
Technically, tomosynthesis utilizes a digital imaging algorithm to re-create x-ray data in a three dimensional way.
Hologic, General Electric, and Siemens are all developing tomosynthesis-based breast imaging equipment. There is also a growing interest in the new devices, since they promise a more comfortable experience for the patient and more accurate mammography for medical professionals. Machines are reported to cost upwards of three hundred thousand dollars each, but in many cases doctors are already seeing a high volume of inquiries.
A recent study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (June 2014) showed a positive benefit to the use of tomosynthesis in detecting cancers and excluding false positives. The effect on outcomes is yet to be determined, but as a diagnostic tool it cannot be underestimated since in provides a more holistic view of the breast and can even provide imaging on thicker tissues or be more effective in the case where implants could obscure results in a 2D mammogram.
Notes and Special Information
Special note: Over the past couple of years advances in imagery, big data, and cloud storage have made it possible to bring more advances and medical knowledge to the forefront in this field. Machine vision and computer algorithms also help identify suspect structures and eliminate many artifacts and false positives that had led to anxiety in the past. See your doctor for availability. Also, ask how effective it would be for your body type since in some cases 3D Mammography has the same effectiveness as standard mammograms, which are cheaper and covered by insurance. Also note the warning that tomosynthesis has twice the raditation as a traditional mammogram, and radiation can cause cancer by itself.