3D Mammograms – A Revolutionary Technique For Screening Breast Cancer

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An advanced technology called Tomosynthesis gives three dimensional images for better detection of breast cancers. It is approved by Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for screening breast cancers in the year 2011. This technique was first clinically introduced by Washington Radiology Association (WRA) for women. Breasts contain dense glandular tissue surrounded by layers of fatty and fibrous tissue. 

Tumour inside the breast is difficult to detect which appears as white irregular mass called shadows. Many times these could be hidden inside the layers of the breast tissue making them invisible and go undetected with 2D mammography as it scans the entire breast in one image. In such cases 3D tomosynthesis helps in detecting minute details more accurately, layer by layer as multiple 3D images called “slices” of breast. These images are captured with an X-Ray Tube which moves around the breast in an arc and later processed in a computer. Studies show that there is 30% increase in cancer detection with Digital Tomosynthesis and 20 to 30% reduction in patient call back. It gives perfect visualisation giving accurate details like location and size of the tumour. It helps in earlier diagnosis and in differentiating between harmless lumps and malignant tumours. It lessens the false diagnosis of breast cancers and also reduces the need for additional radiations. Most importantly reduces the anxiety of the patients developed due to the repeated investigations. 

There are certain risks also involved in this latest technique. Patient tends to get double dose of radiations as initial screening is done most of the times with 2D mammography. Insurance coverage is another issue with concerns many patients. Despite these limitations, researchers still find 3D mammography more promising and comfortable in screening breast cancers.

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