A New 3D Breast Screening Technique Has Increased The Cancer Detection Rate

Breast cancer survivor Olivia Newton-John.
Astrid Stawiarz/Getty Images

A US study has found the addition of a 3D imaging technique to traditional 2D mammograms is associated with a decrease in the proportion of patients called back for additional imaging and an increase in the cancer detection rate.

In Australia the standard method is the two-view digital mammography, although the 3D technique called tomosynthesis is available from a limited number of providers.

Screening mammography has played a key role in reducing deaths from breast cancer mortality although it has drawn criticism for excessive false-positive results, limited sensitivity and the potential of
overdiagnosis of insignificant lesions.

In 2011, the high resolution tomosynthesis method was approved by the US Food and Drug Administration to be used in combination with standard digital mammography for breast cancer screening.

Single-institution studies have shown that adding tomosynthesis to mammography increases cancer detection and reduces false-positive results, according to a study published in the journal JAMA.

The study authors say:

“The association with fewer unnecessary tests and biopsies, with a simultaneous increase in cancer
detection rates, would support the potential benefits of tomosynthesis as a tool for screening.
However, assessment for a benefit in clinical outcomes is needed.”

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