About 3D Mammography - The Newest Breast Cancer Technology

Posted Date: 3/6/2017

New technologies are exciting, and one of the many reasons Dr. David Lynch chose the medical specialty of radiology. The new state-of-the-art tomosynthesis technology, also known as 3D mammography, is the perfect example.

Standard 2D and the new 3D mammography, he explains, both involve compression of the breast between two plates. With 2D mammography, using stationary equipment, X-rays pass through the breast, resulting in two-dimensional images containing overlapping tissue that could potentially hide an abnormality or give the false impression that normal overlapping tissue is a tumor.

During a 3D mammogram, the X-ray tube moves in an arc around the breast, taking multiple images from different angles. This results in a series of images that give the radiologist a three-dimensional perspective of the breast tissue, thereby reducing the challenges associated with tissue overlap. “In a sense,” Dr. Lynch explains, “3D mammography differs from 2D mammography similarly to how CT scanning differs from X-ray imaging.”

3D mammography is primarily used for routine screenings, but it can also be used to problem-solve during diagnostic evaluations, such as when patients present with a palpable lump or need to return for additional imaging after the screening mammogram. It can also be used to assist with biopsies.

All screening patients are candidates for 3D mammography, and though studies have shown benefits for all breast tissue density types, the greatest benefits are seen in women with dense tissue.

There are important benefits of the new 3D mammography, both for the radiologist and the patient. “The radiologist benefits from an increased ability to differentiate masses from normal overlapping breast tissue, and 3D imaging makes it easier to determine the exact location of a mass within the breast, to allow for targeted ultrasound evaluation.”

“For the patient, the most important benefit is increased breast cancer detection, so more cancers will be found earlier and more lives will be saved. The other benefit is reduced call-back rates – fewer patients will need to return after the screening mammogram for additional testing, resulting in less anxiety for patients.”

This new technology is becoming increasingly available, and is used in many hospital systems throughout the region. “We started using this new technology in Hanover several months ago, and within a very short period of time, we diagnosed a breast cancer that was only detectable with 3D imaging.”

“We currently offer both 2D and 3D mammography at Hillside Imaging, and now that the new Mammography Center is complete here at the hospital, both 2D and 3D imaging are offered here as well.”

David J. Lynch, M.D., of Quantum Imaging & Therapeutic Associates, has been a licensed radiologist for over five years, and is Board Certified by the American Board of Radiology. He currently serves as the Hanover Hospital Medical Executive Committee Department Chair of Radiology.