The latest technology in breast health is tomosynthesis or 3-dimensional mammography, which provides a better look inside the breast tissue and increases the accuracy of diagnosis. UT Health North Campus uses the GE SenoClaire to create 3-dimensional images, and we are the only facility in Tyler that has 3-D mammography. This is our standard of care, meaning that all women who come to our breast center will receive 3-D mammogram screenings.
Screening Dense Breasts
When it comes to capturing images of dense breast tissue, 3-D mammography has an incredible advantage over 2-D mammography. Dense breast tissue looks white on mammograms, as do breast masses and tumors. According to Dr. Shannon Glass, one of our expert radiologists at the Breast Center at UT Health, 3-D mammography uses X-rays to produce two views of each breast, with each view divided into at least five separate sections. “I look at each individual segment of the breast, layer by layer,” she explains. “Tomosynthesis or 3-D mammography eliminates the overlapping breast tissue found in dense breasts. It makes lesions stand out, which allows for better detection of cancer in women with dense breast tissue.”
The Benefits of 3-D Mammography
Tomosynthesis has been shown to decrease the call-back rate for a second mammography. “I don’t have to call as many women back for additional scans because 3-D mammography allows me to tell if something is a true lesion versus overlapping tissue,” Dr. Glass says. “So fewer women are experiencing unnecessary anxiety.”
“Before tomosynthesis, we lacked a cost-effective method to screen breast tissue. Now we do. This is a big step forward, and UT Health North Campus is the only breast center in Tyler which currently offers this advanced technology.”
A recent study confirms her conclusions. Three-dimensional mammography found more breast cancers and led to fewer false alarms than standard two-dimensional mammography, according to research results published last year in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
However, the issue of false positives – false alarms – is not a trivial one. The American Cancer Society (ACS) says about 10 percent of women who have a mammogram will be called back for more tests. Only 8 to 10 percent of them will need a biopsy, and 80 percent of those biopsies are benign. On the other side of the coin, standard mammograms miss approximately 20 percent of early cancers, especially in women with dense breasts. About 300,000 new cases of breast cancer are diagnosed each year, and nearly 40,000 women die of breast cancer annually, the ACS says.
Some states, including Texas, require that women be notified if a mammogram reveals they have dense breast tissue. The notification suggests that they might benefit from supplemental screening tests if they have other risks for breast cancer, and encourages them to talk with their physician if they have any concerns about their mammogram.
Schedule Your 3-D Mammogram
Annual mammograms are the key to maintaining breast health and detecting breast cancer early. Every woman who has a screening at UT Health will receive a 3-D mammogram. To schedule an appointment at the Breast Center at UT Health North Campus, please call (903) 877-7146.