Breast cancer screening: Living in a 3D world
One in eight women will develop breast cancer, the most commonly diagnosed cancer in women. While advances in screening, diagnosis and treatment have led to an increase in survival rates, all women need to be armed with accurate, up-to-date information regarding their breast health needs.
We encourage women to begin discussing annual mammography with their doctor at around age 40 to make an informed decision about screening. The American College of Radiology, the Society of Breast Imaging, and American College of Obstetrics and Gynecologists recommend that average-risk women get annual mammograms starting at age 40.
While regular mammograms support early detection, women with dense breast tissue are at an increased risk for breast cancer and may need to use new, innovative screening tools to detect cancer in its earliest stage. These tools can include:
A traditional mammogram takes two X-ray images of the breast, from the top and from the side. 3D mammography takes multiple X-ray images, from multiple angles. This creates a 3D picture of the breast, which the radiologist can interpret. 3D mammograms, when combined with standard 2D mammograms, can reduce the need for additional imaging. Henry Ford Cancer Institute even offers convenient and accessible 3D mammography with its new Mobile Mammogram Vehicle, which visits 11 locations throughout southeast Michigan.
In addition to 3D mammography, women with dense breast tissue may benefit from molecular breast imaging or automated breast ultrasound, secondary screening tools that are used along with screening mammography.
MBI is designed to increase early detection of invasive breast cancer in women with dense breast tissue. It reveals early-stage breast cancer in women with dense breasts by using a special camera and radioactive tracer injected in the arm to create a functional image of the breast. The tracer “lights up” metabolic activity in the breast associated with tumor growth and can identify cancer concealed by dense breast tissue on a mammogram.
Like traditional ultrasound, ABUS uses high-frequency soundwaves to create an image of the breast tissue. The difference is that ABUS provides a 3D image, which the radiologist can use to spot tumors that would be more difficult to identify with 2D imaging. When used in conjunction with screening mammograms, ABUS may increase early detection of cancer in women with dense breast tissue.
These are a few innovative tools that are supporting early detection of breast cancer. The earlier breast cancer is identified, the more likely it is that treatment will be effective.
ABOUT THE EXPERT
Sabala Mandava, M.D., is a board-certified radiologist and division head of breast imaging in the Department of Radiology at Henry Ford Health System.
Members of the editorial and news staff of The Detroit News were not involved in the creation of this content.