The future of breast imaging has arrived at St.Vincent Carmel
Women’s Center, as doctors are now able to use a new technology that has a better rate of detecting early breast cancer in women with dense breast tissue than mammography.
Tomosynthesis, like a CT scan, takes images from multiple angles and uses computer processing to create a 3D image that a radiologist can use to look at a breast from various angles.
“Instead of having one view, you have a series of slices,” says Dr. Janalyn Ferguson, a radiologist at St.Vincent. “It’s kind of like you’re looking at a breast like slices of bread.”
Recent studies have shown that tomosynthesis can increase the cancer detection rate by about 20 to 25 percent. It also decreases the likelihood that patients will be called back for additional imaging, as the limited number of views provided by mammograms can cause normal overlapping tissue to appear cancerous.
With tomosynthesis, doctors can look at about 50 images per breast instead of just a few. It may take a little longer for patients to get results, but physicians believe the many benefits are worth the wait.
“It is an improved technology,” Dr. Ferguson says. “I think if you tell most patients that tomosynthesis is more effective at finding breast cancer, they’re going to be on board.”
Tomosynthesis has been available at St.Vincent Carmel and St.Vincent Indianapolis since last fall. Because the technology is so new, doctors are only using it for patients who could benefit the most, such as women with extremely dense breast tissue. But in time, some doctors believe tomosynthesis could replace the mammogram as it becomes more available.
With breast cancer, early detection typically leads to a much better prognosis and less-invasive treatments. Tomosynthesis can lead to both of those benefits, and more.
“We want to catch breast cancer at the earliest possible time,” says Dr. Erica Giblin, a breast surgeon at St.Vincent Carmel Women’s Center. “The survival of a person with early stage breast cancer is much improved compared to someone with advanced breast cancer.”