Tuesday, 26 July 2016

The Advanced Method for Breast Cancer Detection – 3D Mammography

Tomosynthesis is also referred to as three dimensional mammography or tomo. In this method dedicated electronic detector system is used to obtain multiple images which are then synthesized by a computer and hence create thin slice images of the breast.
In this method specially equipped digital X ray or mammography machines are used to acquire images at various angles. Just like regular mammography, tomo makes use of a paddle to compress the breast in order to minimize the dosage of ionizing radiation required for the process. The paddle also reduces motion which enhances the quality of the images.
Currently 3D mammography is performed in addition to 2D mammography. When both these processes are performed together the radiation dosage becomes double. However, some advanced centers also have the ability to create a synthetic 2D mammogram from the images which are used to create the tomo slices. Radiologists can use this synthetic mammogram in place of a regular one in order to equalize the radiation dose received from a standard mammogram.

Although it is true that more cancers are visible with tomosynthesis, the efficacy of this method in dense breasts is not yet evaluated fully and some cancers may remain hidden due to the dense tissue. The more important benefit of 3D mammography is that it reduces the requirement for recall for additional testing which are usually required to evaluate areas of overlapping normal tissues. It is also useful in reducing the number of examinations for women who are recalled from screening. When masses appear in tomo results, the spot compression views which are commonly performed otherwise can be avoided and the patient can just have an ultrasound done. Hence it can be said that although a cancer can be missed in an extremely dense breast even with tomo, it is beneficial to opt for this method of screening for other important reasons.

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