What are the advantages of 3D Mammography?
Tomosynthesis Breast Imaging Devices
3D Mammography offers another powerful tool in the early detection of breast cancer. Recent FDA approval of 3D Mammograms has led to a lot of interest in this new method of mammography, which allows doctors to "look through" tissue and better pinpoint the locations of suspect cells and tumor masses. As a result, an improved rate of detection, as well as a lower amount of false positives, can be realized. Better yet, the digital nature of the imaging means that doctors can consult from thousands of miles away as long as they have access to the digital imaging, and specialists can view 3D mammograms without having to wait for X-Ray films to be delivered by courier or mail.
Also called the pain free mammogram, or tomosynthesis, 3D mammography is able to look through dense tissue, and use less compression to get imaging results. Therefore, it may make the process of getting mammograms somewhat more pleasant, which can lead to more common checkups. The arguments against 3D Mammography include that the cost is not always covered by insurance and that there is more radiation involved in the process. For some women, the traditional mammogram is just as effective and will be covered by just about any health plan. Nonetheless, the reduction of "false alarms" would limit the need for extra biopsies and the psychological trauma in waiting for a test result or experiencing a misdiagnosis.
A study published in the JAMA based on an evaluation of 450,000 mammograms indicated that 3-D mammography resulted in fewer false positives as well as an increase in discovered tumors. The exam, similar to the traditional mammogram, is different in the fact that the camera rotates to take multiple X-ray exposures which are then rendered into a three dimensional image which can be better analyzed. The caveat of the study is that there needs to be further examination to determine whether clinical outcomes are affected by the better diagnosis.
From a psychological standpoint, the reduction in false positives means that there is less anxiety, a reduced need for biopsies, and even more efficiency in the office since people don't need to come in and get another mammogram, which is considered by many women to be highly uncomfortable. The manufacturer indicates that there may be over half a million cases where re-examination is needed, and this translates to a lot of money and time spent checking up.
Notes and Special Information
Special note 3D Mammography, like regular mammograms, still need to be done regulary to be effective.