April 30, 2007 - Early studies have shown that an experimental breast cancer scanning technology, called digital breast tomosynthesis, appears to be more accurate than a mammogram in detecting breast cancer tumors, and the scan ideally will involve less pressure on the breast, the Wall Street Journal reports (Kranhold, Wall Street Journal, 4/24).
During a DBT scan, an X-ray tube moves in an arc around the breast, taking several pictures at various angles in about five seconds. According to Daniel Kopans, senior radiologist at Massachusetts General Hospital and a tomosynthesis developer, DBT provides a doctor with more accurate three-dimensional views of the breast, compared with two-dimensional views produced by mammograms.
Massachusetts General Hospital and other institutions are currently conducting large trials of DBT technology produced by General Electric and Hologic, the Journal reports. Women in the DBT studies are subjected to the same amount of compression as in conventional mammography for comparison purposes, but that likely will change once more data are collected, Elizabeth Rafferty, head of breast imaging at Massachusetts General Hospital, said.
According to the Journal, the DBT machines cost more than $700,000, compared with about $450,000 for a digital mammography machine and $100,000 for a film-based mammography machine. The technology could receive FDA approval as early as this year and be available to women by 2008, the Journal reports. Another breast cancer screening technology, manufactured by U-Systems, is an "automatic ultrasound" designed to scan a large area of the breast "in one quick sweep," the Journal reports. Although some physicians say that new technology might improve breast cancer detection, they add that women should not delay undergoing mammograms.
Source: Medical News Today