The cancer detection rate in mammography screening of women with dense breasts can be significantly increased by 30 percent with the help of digital breast tomosynthesis (also known as 3-D mammography) which addresses some of the limitations of mammography by providing 3-D views of the breast. Research has shown that dense breasts i.e. breasts having more of fibrous or glandular tissue than fatty tissue are more likely to develop cancer. Cancer in dense breasts can be difficult to detect on mammograms and therefore other imaging techniques like MRI and ultrasound have to be used. However, both modalities have higher rates of false-positive findings which often results in more tests and unnecessary biopsies making the entire procedure expensive to implement in high-volume screening programs.
The researchers from the Oslo University Hospital compared cancer detection using full-field digital mammography (FFDM) versus FFDM plus digital breast tomosynthesis in 25,547 women between the ages of 50 and 69. The American College of Radiology's Breast Imaging-Reporting and Data System (BI-RADS) was used to determine breast density, with 1 being the least dense and 4 being the most dense on a scale from 1 to 4. There were 257 malignancies detected of which, 211, or 82 percent were detected with FFDM plus tomosynthesis, compared to only 163, or 63 percent, detected with FFDM alone.
Study lead author Per Skaane, M.D., Ph.D., from the Department of Radiology at Oslo University Hospital in Oslo, Norway said, "Our results show that implementation of tomosynthesis might indicate a new era in breast cancer screening."
This study was presented at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA).