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Lower-Dose 3-D Mammography

Lower-dose three-dimensional (3D) mammography can detect breast cancers at earlier, more treatable stages, with reduced exposure and less compression time. John C. Lincoln's Breast Health and Research Center is the first in Arizona to offer lower-dose 3D mammography.

3d mammography in phoenix az
Video: Learn about Hologic's new digital 3D mammography system, now available at the John C. Lincoln Breast Health and Research Center in Phoenix.

In April 2011, Valley women screened for breast cancer at John C. Lincoln's Breast Health and Research Center gained access to groundbreaking, three-dimensional imaging technology, called tomosynthesis. The highly sensitive imaging technology provides individual pictures of thin layers of breast tissue, yielding much clearer images.

3D mammography, developed by Hologic, was installed at the Breast Center in 2010, but could only be used for two-dimensional breast imaging until its federal approval for 3D use. Approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) was granted in February 2011, after which the new 3D software was ordered, installed, tested and approved for use.

In August 2013, the Breast Center's digital 3D mammography system was upgraded with Hologic's new 'C-View' software to provide the same high quality medical imaging and increased cancer detection with less compression time and reduced radiation exposure. The new lower-dose software, approved May 16 by the FDA, creates 2D images from the 3D data set, thus eliminating the digital X-ray that was part of the original 3D process.

Benefits of Digital 3D Mammography

Tomosynthesis reveals the inner architecture of the breast, without the distortion typically caused by tissue shadowing or density. Thin layers of breast tissue are shown individually, not as overlapping tissue layers, which can hide lesions or cause benign areas to appear suspicious. In contrast, conventional mammograms show overlapping tissue, which can be confusing and frequently lead to "false positives," unclear images that require additional imaging to rule out cancer.

Because images generated by tomosynthesis are so much easier for radiologists to read, cancer can be detected at an earlier, more treatable time and the number of false positives has plummeted.

Originally, tomosynthesis combined the 3D images with a traditional digital mammogram. With the C-View lower-dose technology, the two dimensional images are created from the 3D data, eliminating the separate 2D digital X-ray.

New Technology Means Fewer Patients Recalled for Follow-Up Imaging

When radiologists encounter suspicious images, patients are recalled for additional mammograms. Historically, approximately 10 percent of women who get screening mammograms undergo additional testing for abnormalities that are later determined to be noncancerous. This is necessary in order to identify or rule out breast cancer.

However, each recall adds to women's anxiety levels, is inconvenient and increases the amount of radiation to which patients are exposed. Improved accuracy in detecting cancers with Hologic's tomosynthesis system has significantly decreased the number of patients recalled for diagnostic workups because original results were unclear.

Detecting Breast Cancer Earlier, When It Is More Treatable

The clarity of 3D imagery has helped doctors find more cancers than with traditional 2D images alone, according to clinical experience cited by the FDA. Clinical studies in which radiologists read tomosynthesis images, compared to 2D mammography alone, demonstrated superior clinical performance. Tiny cancers that are invisible in traditional 2D digital mammography appear clearly in 3D imagery.

The enhanced technology raises radiologists' confidence in ruling out breast cancer, without calling the patient back for further imaging study. Further, because the technology offers improved visual sensitivity, it raises the proportion of mammograms that correctly detect breast cancers.

While critically important for all women, the enhancement is especially important for younger women with dense breast tissue.

Through 3D mammography, breast specialists will be able to identify cancer at an earlier, more treatable stage, ultimately saving more lives. 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. At this time, there is no sure way to prevent breast cancer, which is why regular mammograms starting for most women at age 40 are so important.

Schedule a 3D Mammogram

The new, lower-dose 3D mammograms are now available at the same cost as conventional 2D mammography at John C. Lincoln's Breast Health and Research Center, 19646 N. 27th Ave., #205, Phoenix. A mammography prescription from a primary caregiver is required.

Call the Breast Health and Research Center at 623-780-HOPE (4673).