News Column

Hologic 3D Mammography systems make mammograms easy

September 1, 2014

By Victor R. Martinez, El Paso Times, Texas

Sept. 01--El Pasoan Alissa Clark had her first mammogram when she was 35 years old, five years sooner than what most doctors recommend.

"I have family history which is why I have annual exams," said Clark. "I have a maternal aunt who has breast cancer." This is the first year Clark, 43, has had her annual check up using Hologic's 3D Mammography.

"Every year, using the old 2D mammography, I would have to wait to find out if there was something abnormal and then I had to come back for additional images or an ultrasound and that takes more time off of work and from your life," she said. "With 3D, you get your results a lot sooner. It's a peace of mind."

A study released in the June 25 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association found that Hologic's 3D Mammography (breast tomosynthesis) screening technology found significantly more invasive cancers than a traditional mammogram.

The researchers also found that 3D mammography reduces the number of women called back for unnecessary testing due to false alarms which reduces anxiety, as well as health care costs.

Hologic 3D Mammography is the first and currently the only FDA approved 3D mammography system in the United States.

"I have very dense breast tissue so its always hard for the doctors because usually they overlap each other and you can't see through those areas," Clark said. "With the 3D, you can rotate the image and you can see through those areas. With 3D you are getting a much better picture and a lot more information, probably about 100 more images per study."

The study, "Breast Cancer Screening Using Tomosynthesis in Combination with Digital Mammography," was led by Dr. Sarah M. Friedewald of the Caldwell Breast Center, Advocate Lutheran General Hospital in Park Ridge, Ill.

"When I look at a dot in 2D, there is no telling what it can be," said Dr. Khanh Nguyen, a radiologist who specializes in breast imaging at TotalCare West Imaging, 601 Sunland Park Drive. "Now I can scroll through the image with 3D imaging and I can follow things in their entirety to tell me if it's something that I should or shouldn't be concerned about."

Nguyen said 3D mammograms are mostly for high risk patients or women with dense breasts who have less fatty tissue and more gland tissue.

"Sometimes we can't see through the breasts because they are so dense and things sort of blend in together," Nguyen said. "The breasts are fatty which means the fat is dark and whatever is abnormal is light and it pops out. With a women with dense breasts, that's harder to see so the 3D helps so I can scroll through her breasts and maybe see something that was hidden that I couldn't see with regular 2D."

Research has shown that women with dense breasts can be six times more likely to develop cancer.

An estimated six million women in the United States will be screened with this technology in 2014. Hologic has over 1,100 3D mammography systems installed in the U.S.

"The thing with this technology is once you use this tool, you're done, the patient doesn't have to come back and do an ultrasound, or come back for an MRI," Nguyen said. "This saves the patient money and time because they don't have to pay for an MRI and take time off from work to come back."

The Hologic 3D Mammography systems study was the largest to date involving 139 doctors from 13 U.S. academic and community-based sites. A total of 454,850 examinations (281,187 conventional mammograms compared to 173,663 3D mammography exams) were included in the study.

There are seven radiologists in the Sierra Providence Health Network using 3D mammography.

Laura Tellez, 53, had her first mammogram when she turned 40. Two weeks ago, she had her first mammogram using 3D imaging.

"It was the same feeling, the same procedure just like all my other experiences," Tellez said. "But when she (the radiology technologist) showed me the pictures you could see more. It was like a regular mammogram only with better and more definite results."

Regardless of the type of imaging you use, Tellez said women need to be checked once a year.

"You need to be proactive with your health and this is just one of those things you have to endure," she said. "Please do it, it's your health. It could lengthen your life. If they detect something, at least they can catch it early."

Victor R. Martinez may be reached at 915-546-6128.

Get Checked

Be aware of any change in your breast or underarm area. If you notice any of the following signs, see your health care provider.

--Lump, hard knot or thickening inside the breast or underarm area.

--Swelling, warmth, redness or darkening of the breast.

--Change in the size or shape of the breast.

--Dimpling or puckering of the skin.

--Itchy, scaly sore or rash on the nipple.

--Pulling in of your nipple or other parts of the breast.

--Nipple discharge that starts suddenly.

--New pain in one spot that does not go away.



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Source: El Paso Times (TX)

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