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3D Mammography

3D Mammography is now offered at Hunterdon Women’s Imaging Center. 3D mammography, called breast tomosynthesis, has been shown to improve detection of invasive cancers over conventional 2D mammography.

Hunterdon Women’s Imaging installed GE Healthcare’s SenoClaire. Conventional two-dimensional digital mammography usually takes two images of each breast, top to bottom and side to side, resulting in high-resolution images. With 3-D mammography, the X-ray tube moves in a circular arc around the breast, taking multiple low-dose X-rays that a computer assembles as a high-resolution 3-D image. The radiologist reading the mammogram is able to scroll through the 3-D image in “slices” as thin as a dime, examining the entire breast with exceptional clarity and without the problems associated with tissue overlap. The difference between the two techniques is similar to looking at a two-dimensional picture of a ball versus looking into and around the inside of a ball.

With GE’s SenoClaire, there is little to no increase in dose from a 2D standard mammogram to a 3D view, which means there is no increased radiation to patients during a SenoClaire breast exam. These clearer images give radiologists a more accurate screening tool for breast cancer detection. A key challenge when performing screening mammography is keeping the radiation levels as low as possible.

Almost half of all women, regardless of age, are shown on mammogram to have more fibrous or glandular “dense” breast tissue than fatty non-dense breast tissue. Although this is not abnormal, it does present challenges in detecting breast tumors. One such challenge is that while fatty tissue appears dark on a mammogram, dense breast tissue appears white—very similar in color to a breast tumor. This makes distinguishing breast tumors, especially small ones, more difficult in dense breasts. Another challenge is the overlap of breast tissue when it’s compressed during a mammogram (conventional or 3-D). An overlap of dense tissue can hide small cancers or be mistaken for tumors that aren’t there, resulting in unnecessary additional testing and great anxiety.

Your doctor is your best source of information when it comes to the most appropriate breast cancer screening for you. For all women, 3-D mammography is an improvement to their breast cancer screening protocol. It’s important to speak with your doctor to determine what’s right for you.