Seeing Cancer in 3D!
This month is Breast Cancer Awareness month. As a radiologist, I am very tuned in to breast cancer awareness. I read mammograms, breast ultrasounds, and breast MRI every day. It is part of my overall job as a radiologist.
In May 2013 I attended a breast imaging conference in Tampa Bay, Florida. During that conference, there was much discussion of a new technology known as tomosynthesis. This alternate form of mammography had just been approved by the FDA. As I watched the images stream before my eyes I was astonished!
Trying to read mammograms is a huge challenge. We have performing mammography, or Xray images of the breast since the 1960’s. In the past fifty years radiologists have tried and tried to come up with newer technology. You see, regular mammograms are the best test we have to detect early breast cancer. But, mammograms are not 100% accurate. In fact, most radiologists would gladly trade reading mammograms for anything that would give better results. The problems is, we just haven’t been able to find anything.
Tomosynthesis is also known as 3D breast imaging. The technology is astonishingly simple but only now possible due to technological advances in computer processing. In this new form of imaging of the breast, the Xray tube moves through a 15 degree arc above the patient’s breast over 4 seconds. The series of exposures is then processed to produce “slices” through the breast. It’s like leafing through the pages of a book.
Did you get that? The amount of imaging time is the same as 2D mammography we have been performing for years. In fact, the radiation dosage is less than twice that of a normal mammogram. But, the results are astonishing!
Look back at my previous posts and you can watch my videos regarding this new technology. But, let me tell you that 3D breast imaging is allowing us to pick up to 50% more early invasive breast cancers than before. And, these early forms of breast cancer are small enough to actually allow us to decrease the death rate from breast cancer!
I am part of the Willis Knighton Health Care System here in the Shreveport – Bossier City area and I am proud to be a part of the launch of this new kind of mammography beginning last week on October 1. We are now performing 3D breast imaging at our Willis Knighton Pierremont outpatient breast clinic. Soon, Willis Knighton Bossier will have this technology and then, before the end of the year, Willis Knighton South will come on line. Already, we are seeing amazing results from this new technology just in one week!
Women, pay attention. If you have put off having your first mammogram or having that yearly followup mammogram, contact your doctor and see if it is time for you to have your first 3D mammogram. Let’s put an end to breast cancer!