Many women age 40 and older at one point have experienced a phone call alerting them that they need further testing after a screening mammogram found an area of concern. While in many cases these turn out to be non-cancerous, the stress and worry are real.
A new technology at Avera — 3-D mammography — is providing better images of the breast to cut down on such calls.
While this new technology provides a slight increase in detection compared to 2-D mammography, the real benefit is the ability to cut down on callbacks for further testing, said Patrick Nelson, MD, Avera Medical Group Radiology Sioux Falls.
In fact, women who receive a 3-D mammogram are 15 percent less likely to be called back for more testing.
“While a 2-D image might detect a questionable finding, if you look at it on a 3-D image you can tell if it’s concerning or not right away,” Nelson said. “Even waiting a couple additional days can be stressful. Hopefully this new technology will provide big benefits in decreasing that stress.”
Like Slices of Bread
Also known as digital breast tomosynthesis, 3-D mammography is now available to Avera patients in Aberdeen and Sioux Falls. The difference in technology is that tomosynthesis is able to take several images from multiple angles.
“It’s like slices in a loaf of bread so you can pull out one individual slice of bread and see if there is something in there. That provides the ability to distinguish between real lesions and superimposed tissue which can mimic a lesion,” Nelson said
Certain women will especially benefit from 3-D mammograms – women with dense breast tissue, those who have experienced call backs for diagnostic imaging, and women at high risk: family history of breast cancer, lobular carcinoma in situ (LCIS), atypical hyperplasia, and/or difficult breast exams.
Helpful for Dense Breast Tissue
The ability to see individual slices is a major reason this new technology is extremely helpful for women with dense breast tissue.
3-D is the newest version of digital mammography technology. The mammography experience for patients is very similar. The 3-D mammography unit sweeps around part of the positioned breast. 3-D mammography takes images using nine slightly different angles, and each view shows different depths of breast tissue.
“The fourth dimension of Avera breast care is care for the whole person – body, mind and spirit,” said Jill Schultz, Director of Breast Health at Avera. “Our expert and compassionate team is here to ensure the patient’s experience is the best it can be. No matter where patients receive their care, Avera Breast Center is backed by all the technology and expertise of Avera Cancer Institute. Integrative therapies, survivorship programs and spiritual care make Avera’s care multi-dimensional.”