Breast Tomosynthesis: 10D Imaging for Enhanced Breast Cancer Detection
Breast cancer is a common form of cancer affecting women worldwide. According to the American Cancer Society, one in eight women will develop breast cancer in her lifetime. Breast cancer screening is crucial for early detection and treatment, which can minimize the risk of complications and increase survival rates. Traditionally, mammography has been the gold standard for breast cancer screening. However, breast tomosynthesis, also known as 3D mammography or 10D imaging, is emerging as a promising technology providing enhanced accuracy and detection. In this article, we will explore breast tomosynthesis, its advantages, and limitations.
What is Breast Tomosynthesis or 3D Mammography?
Breast tomosynthesis is a type of mammography that generates a 3D image of the breast by taking multiple low radiation dose X-ray images at different angles. These images are then reconstructed into a 3D image of the breast, which is used for analysis. Unlike traditional 2D mammography, which uses a single X-ray image to examine the breast, breast tomosynthesis produces multiple images and decreases the overlapping tissue, which leads to a clearer image of the breast. The images obtained from tomosynthesis are displayed as thin slices of a 3D image that doctors can examine individually.Breast tomosynthesis is typically done in conjunction with a conventional 2D mammogram. The machine takes images from different angles while compressing the breast tissue to obtain an accurate image. Breast tomosynthesis is not only more precise than 2D mammography but also takes less time and radiation exposure. With a lower radiation dose, the patient’s potential exposure to radiation is reduced during breast screenings, which is an added advantage.
Advantages of Breast Tomosynthesis
Breast tomosynthesis is a major breakthrough in breast cancer screening technology. Here are some of the key benefits of this innovative screening method:
1. Improved Cancer Detection:
One of the main advantages of breast tomosynthesis is improved cancer detection. Detecting breast cancer early is crucial, and breast tomosynthesis detects 41% more invasive breast cancers than traditional 2D mammography. Breast tomosynthesis also reduces the number of false positives (finding something that looks like cancer but is not) by 15%.
2. Better Visibility of Tissues:
Breast tomosynthesis offers better visualization of breast tissue than 2D mammography. The multiple images produced by breast tomosynthesis reduce the overlapping of the breast tissue, resulting in images that are easier to read. This clearer image of dense breast tissue is an added advantage, as dense breast tissue can obscure the presence of breast cancer.
3. Reduced Patient Recall:
With traditional mammography, there is a higher rate of “recall” where patients are called back for additional tests. This can be due to a variety of reasons, including overlapping tissue, unclear images, or mass. However, breast tomosynthesis reduces recall rates, as there is a better detection of breast cancer, and the clearer images of breast tissue reduce the likelihood of false positives.
Limitations of Breast Tomosynthesis
While breast tomosynthesis has several advantages, it also has some limitations that need to be understood. These limitations include:
Breast tomosynthesis is a relatively new and emerging technology, and it’s more expensive than traditional 2D mammography. Although the extra cost of acquiring and maintaining the technology for breast tomosynthesis is considerable, it is not a significant limitation because the technique reduces patient recalls and unnecessary procedures.
Breast tomosynthesis takes more time than the traditional mammography screening. Since it takes multiple images, the procedure can take up to 10 minutes longer than the standard 2D mammography.
3. Radiation Exposure:
Although breast tomosynthesis is associated with a lower radiation dose than conventional mammography, patients are still exposed to radiation during the procedure. While the radiation dose is small, it is important to be aware of and account for any previous radiation exposure.
Who should undergo Breast Tomosynthesis?
The American College of Radiology and Society of Breast Imaging recommends all women – particularly those with dense breasts, women with a family history of breast cancer, and those with previous breast biopsies or other concerning factors, undergo breast tomosynthesis screening instead of traditional mammography. Women between 40–49 years old or those with a high risk of breast cancer may choose to undergo breast tomosynthesis screening in some cases but need to discuss the optimal screening age and intervals with their medical oncologist.
The Future of Breast Tomosynthesis
Breast tomosynthesis is rapidly becoming a standard imaging choice for breast cancer screening. Ongoing research and technological advancements promise to further improve the technology’s efficacy and accuracy. Artificial intelligence using machine learning and radiomics may improve computer-aided diagnosis, improving sensitivity and specificity in breast cancer diagnosis. It reduces the recall rate while enhancing cancer detection. Technological development is also being pursued to increase the coverage area to include the axilla, a critical lymph node area for the diagnosis and spread of breast cancer.
Breast cancer screening is vital for early detection and treatment. Breast tomosynthesis, or 3D mammography, is a promising and emerging technology, providing enhanced cancer detection and better visualization of breast tissue. While there are some limitations to this procedure, its advantages far outweigh the disadvantages. Its development and application promise continuing enhancement in sensitivity and specificity, reducing recall, and improves diagnosis. Women who need accurate breast screening can inquire about breast tomosynthesis as an appropriate option. This technology offers additional imaging capability to improve diagnosis and reduce recall rates. See you again in another interesting article.
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