Thursday, November 21, 2013

The Multi-Layered Benefits of Tomosynthesis

by Agnes Cartner, MD


Tomosynthesis, or 3D mammography, is one of the newest tests for early breast cancer detection available at Brookwood Medical Center. Tomography is used in combination with the standard mammogram (2D) to help radiologists detect even more cancers at the earliest possible stage.  


Fifteen images are obtained over four seconds and used to reconstruct 1 millimeter thin images for the radiologist to evaluate. The process helps radiologists to better determine which areas of density we see on 2D mammography are merely overlapping fibro glandular tissue versus those caused by the presence of a small cancer. The benefit of tomosynthesis increases as the density of the breast tissue increases. Therefore 3D mammography not only helps us to better detect small cancers, it decreases our need to call a patient back for additional imaging (decrease in callback rate). Both benefits result in a decrease in anxiety patients experience when they have to return for additional imaging!


There is an additional radiation dose for the new 3D images since it is added to a standard 2D mammogram for interpretation. However, the total radiation dose is still below the safe levels that have been established by the FDA.


We are excited to provide this new technology at Brookwood Women's Diagnostic Center. The stage at which breast cancer is detected influences a woman’s chance of survival. If detected early, the five-year survival rate is 98 percent. Therapies for treating and curing breast cancer are improving every day!  


Dr. Agnes Cartner is a diagnostic radiologist at Brookwood Medical Center.


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