Standard digital mammography plays a key role in detecting breast cancer. However, mammography has also come under some criticism because of the false positive results it can produce, along with unnecessary biopsies and over diagnosis of cancer.
A new study in the current issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association examined whether adding 3-dimensional technology to the standard digital mammogram could help improve outcomes.
Dr. Sarah Friedewald from Advocate Lutheran General Hospital led a team of researchers that reviewed 2 and 3-D mammograms from more than 450,000 patients at 13 sites across the country. Dr. Friedewald says, "we found invasive cancers or the cancers that we worry about, the ones that potentially kill people more frequently, in women who had the 3-D mammogram versus the women who just had the 2-D mammogram."
"At the same time, fewer people had to come back for unnecessary testing which creates unnecessary anxiety," she added.
J.C. Blair Hospital in Huntindon, which began offering 3 D mammography last year, is reporting the same positive results. Chief Radiologist Dr. Maria Pettinger says, "we doubled the number of cancers we detected in a 6 month time period from where we started."
As Dr. Pettinger explained, "you can actually see very exquisite detail of the structures in the breast tissue. It is so precise that when it gets up to the skin surface , you can actually see the pores in the skin."
Dr. Pettinger says early detection also leads to early treatment and more lives saved.
3 D mammography isn't yet covered by insurance, but JC Blair says it covers the costs that aren't reimbursed.