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Mon, Apr 10, 2017 at 05:00 AM

3D mammograms now available at both Marshall North and South

Marshall Medical Centers is committed to offering the best and latest healthcare to its patients.

Because of that commitment, women in Marshall County now have access locally to the very latest technology in mammography, which is being called the single greatest break-through in breast cancer detection in the last 30 years. 

Known as 3D Mammography, the new technology takes multiple images or X-rays of breast tissue to recreate a 3D picture of the breast. It’s different from traditional mammography which obtains just a single image. Due to overlapping layers of tissue inside breasts, those 2D images could produce unclear results causing false alarms or allowing cancer to be missed altogether.

Now, thanks to the new technology, multiple images produced by 3D mammograms give doctors a clearer image of breast masses. It makes it easier to detect breast cancer and boosts the accuracy of mammography screening.

Women with dense breast tissue in particular may benefit from 3D mammography because it provides a clearer picture, making it easier for doctors to catch breast cancer early. It also makes the size of the cancer easier to see than it could be on a regular mammogram.

Exams done using the new equipment produce a series of detailed images allowing a better evaluation of breasts layer by layer. The radiologist views these images sequentially. A mass will stand out in the scan rather than being camouflaged by dense breast tissue as sometimes occurs with traditional 2D mammography.

Studies show that the exam has greater accuracy than 2D mammography for women across a variety of ages and breast densities. Greater accuracy means better breast cancer detection and a reduced chance of being called back for additional screenings.

A "callback" happens when a mammogram picks up something suspicious and the doctor wants to do additional imaging or a biopsy. For most women, it turns out to be nothing. According to the American Cancer Society, fewer than 10 percent of women called back for more testing are diagnosed with breast cancer. Researchers found a 15 percent dip in the number of women who had to return for more tests because of a suspicious mammogram finding after undergoing 3D mammography.

3D mammograms are now available at both Marshall North and South. The recently-installed machines - called Hologic’s Genius 3D Mammography - are the only 3D exam approved by the FDA as clinically superior to traditional mammography.

Women notice little difference between 3D mammography and traditional screenings. During the 3D part of the exam, an x-ray arm sweeps over the breast, taking multiple images in seconds. It takes about four seconds to obtain an image, just a little bit longer than a digital mammogram. 3D mammography produces more images, so it does take radiologists a little longer to read than a single digital mammography image, but the original procedure is much the same. 

The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) reported that Hologic's 3D technology detects 41 percent more invasive breast cancers. False positives decreased by 40 percent using 3D technology, which reduces the anxiety caused when women are called to repeat their test due to a false alarm.    

The largest study of its kind, the JAMA study involved over 450,000 exams, 139 doctors and 13 leading academic and clinical sites using Hologic's 3D mammography technology.

During a 3D mammogram, women will experience a minimal amount of additional radiation, compared with a standard mammogram.

However, this dose is below the FDA-regulated limit for mammography and no additional risk from an amount of radiation this small has been shown. The FDA studied the radiation issue before approving screening and diagnostic 3D mammography, concluding that the benefits outweigh any potential risk.

Breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer deaths among women, exceeded only by lung cancer, according to the American Cancer Society. Detecting cancer at an earlier stage will influence a woman’s chance of survival. Talk to your healthcare provider about a 3D mammogram. When it is time for your regular annual screening, your doctor’s office can schedule it for you. You won’t regret it.