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June 25, 2014:
Study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association shows promise for 3-D mammography.

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False Positives:

In mammography, false positives can be caused by scarring, breast implants, benign tumors, and other tissues that may resemble cancerous tissue in a mammogram. The advantage of three dimensional tomography is that the image can be rotated to better discern tissues and structures.

New Study Shows Advantages of 3-D Tomography in Breast Cancer Detection

Fewer false positives means more peace of mind

3D MammographyA study of several hundred thousand mammograms compared to 3D mammograms showed that there were fewer false positives and more tumors detected in breast tissue with the newer 3-D system. The study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, indicates that tomosynthesis has clear advantages over the traditional mammogram, and this offers a better chance for early detection. On the other side, the reduction of false positives reduces the need for biopsies and the associated anxiety of an inconclusive mammogram. The study is based in data from Massachusetts General Hospital and sixteen other institutions. It was funded by the National Cancer Institute and Hologic, which is currently the only maker of tomography equipment for mammography.

Previously, two European studies came to similar conclusions, but the one published in JAMA is more comprehensive. According to the manufacturer, if 3-D mammography were the standard of care, there would be half a million fewer recalls for further testing, which could thereby reduce medical costs. Furthermore, the ability of tomosynthesis to work in dense breast tissue may also be useful in many cases where traditional mammography was more difficult.

Notes and Special Information

Special note: As with any medical technology, there may be arguments for using traditional approaches versus the 3-D variety. Furthermore, the availability of tomography may be limited in some areas, and that should not be a reason not to get regular mammograms to detect the possibility of breast cancer or other issues.