News | April 26, 2013

Tomosynthesis Increases Breast Cancer Detection Rate

Tomosynthesis may improve detection in dense breasts

April 26, 2013 — Two-dimensional plus 3-D breast imaging increases cancer detection rates by 11 percent, and could be particularly useful in detecting cancer in women with dense breasts, a new clinical study suggests.

Researchers at Yale University Smilow Cancer Hospital in New Haven, Conn., reviewed the screening mammograms of 14,684 patients. Forty-two cancers were found in 8,769 patients who had only 2-D imaging (a cancer detection rate of 4.8 per 1,000), said Jaime Geisel, a lead author of the study. Thirty-two cancers were found in the group that had 2-D plus 3-D (tomosynthesis) imaging, for a cancer detection rate of 5.4 per 1,000, said Geisel. The percent of invasive and intraductal cancers detected among the two groups was similar, she said.

In addition to the improved cancer detection rate, "of the patients who had cancer detected with 3-D, 54 percent had dense breasts. Of the patients who had cancer detected with 2-D only, 21 percent had dense breasts. This suggests better performance of the 3-D in dense breast tissue given 3-D was offered to patients regardless of breast density or risk factors," Geisel said.

Geisel noted that the majority of screening mammograms at her facility now include 3-D imaging.

"I am hopeful that my study will help raise awareness among physicians as well as women undergoing breast cancer screening," she said. Additional research needs to be done; "We recognize the numbers are still too small to draw significant conclusions, but the data is compelling," she said.

Geisel presented her study at the ARRS annual meeting on April 19 in Washington, D.C.

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