Healthcare Technology Featured Article

January 03, 2013

Efficient Breast Cancer Detection with the Help of 3D Technology

It can now be safely said that 3D technology has immensely benefitted doctors and patients by detecting breast cancers accurately.

The three-dimensional breast imaging technology along with the standard digital mammography has greatly reduced inaccuracy and false calls. According to a recent study published by Radiology, a journal from the Radiological Society of North America, 3D technology helps in better diagnostic accuracy detection, while reducing false positive recall rates.

The process of Tomosynthesis involves first capturing multiple images from various angles around the breast. Those images are then used to create a three-dimensional image of the breast. It leads to a better diagnosis compared to the traditional X-ray examinations. A traditional screening digital mammogram involves two X-ray images of each breast.

In cases where there is dense tissue, X-rays falter and miss certain critical areas. However, the three-dimensional mammography is especially helpful for women who have dense breasts, said Nancy Babich, director of diagnostic imaging for the regional Porter Health Care System.

Image via Shutterstock

The 3D technology is available at Porter Regional Hospital in its new women's center. Currently, the center is not using Tomosynthesis as a screening tool with every patient. It is being selectively used for women who have dense breasts or when women are called back for further testing so as to be sure of the diagnosis.

"It finds a lot of the missed cancers," Babich said.

It is indeed disheartening to know that as many as 30 percent of breast cancer cases are not detected by standard mammography. They are missed by the traditional procedures. And about eight to 10 percent of women get inaccurate results and receive false positive results. Sometimes the doctors miss the cancer and at times women undergo further testing, which later shows no presence of cancer, according to the National Cancer Institute.

3D technology is comfortable and accurate. “With three-dimensional mammography, patients don't notice a difference in the exam,” said Dr. Anastasia Siatras, a breast-fellowship trained radiologist at the Northwest Indiana Breast Care Center at Methodist Hospitals.

“It scans from foot to head, from outside in. Instead of transmitting a single image, it is multiple images," she said. "You're able to pick apart the tissue more cleanly. This is a stressful thing for women, to get a mammogram every year. As soon as they need more imaging, a lot of women get extremely anxious."

Accuracy of detection lessens the need for callbacks. Radiologists are aided tremendously with this new technology. They are able to find cancer at an earlier stage and there is a less number of misses. The 3D technology for breast examination is available to all of its patients at the Northwest Indiana Breast Care Center.

"Almost none have refused; 99.9 percent come in because they want the 3D experience," Dr. Siatras said.

“As soon as this super-efficient 3D technology became available, Methodist Hospitals acquired the technology for its Gary and Merrillville campuses. It immediately acquired the two machines and technology by spending nearly $1.2 million,” said Dr. B.H. Barai, medical director of Methodist Hospitals Oncology Institute.

“There will be pressure in hospitals for the technology. We were first in line to get this machine. In five years, everybody will have this,” he said.

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