Compared to traditional mammograms, 3D mammography has been shown to find more breast cancers and lead to fewer call backs, in new research by the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania.
In findings presented at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America, researchers reported 3D scans — known as digital breast tomosynthesis — found 22 percent more breast cancers than conventional mammograms.
Traditional mammograms are the most widely-used screening method for breast cancer, but often result in suspicious findings that turn out not to be cancer, known as false-positives, that have a higher recall rate — requiring women to be called back for additional imaging or biopsies.
But tomosynthesis allows for 3D reconstruction of the breast tissue, giving radiologists a clearer view of breast tissue.
For the new study, presented by Emily F. Conant, M.D., chief of breast imaging the Department of Radiology at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, the research team compared imaging results from 15,633 women who underwent tomosynthesis to those of 10,753 patients imaged with digital mammography the prior year.
Researchers found that, compared to conventional mammography, the recall rate using tomosynthesis decreased from 10.40 percent to 8.78 percent, and the cancer detection rate rose from 4.28 to 5.24 per 1,000 patients, a 22 percent increase.
"Our study showed that we reduced our callback rate and increased our cancer detection rate," said Dr. Conant. "The degree to which these rates were affected varied by radiologist. But importantly, the ratio of callback to cancer detection rate improved significantly for our radiologists.
"It's the most exciting improvement to mammography that I have seen in my career, even more important than the conversion from film-screen mammography to digital mammography. The coming years will be very exciting, as we see further improvements in this innovative technology."
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