SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Fighting breast cancer

October 15, 2012

3-D mammograms offer new screening option

Mammograms have entered a new dimension, literally. At some screening centers, women are now being offered a 3-D technology that costs more and involves more radiation but may provide a better look.

The Food and Drug Administration approved the 3-D mammography device in 2011, and the technique is becoming more common.

Radiologists who use 3-D, also known as tomosynthesis, say its drawbacks are worth the greater accuracy. By itself, 3-D mammography delivers about the same amount of radiation as standard digital 2-D mammograms. But when the FDA approved the new device, it said 3-D could be used only as an add-on to standard mammograms, essentially doubling the low radiation dose. The FDA made 3-D an add-on only because there is not enough information yet about whether 3-D screenings detect cancers as well as 2-D mammograms do. Therefore, 2-D remains the standard of care and provides unique benefits for clinicians, such as familiarity and the ability to compare images from previous years.

"The 3-D image doesn't replace the standard 2-D mammogram," says Julianne Greenberg, a radiologist at Washington Radiology Associates, which has begun telling women who come in for their standard 2-D screening that they can add a 3-D mammogram to it for $50. "Three-D is added value to an already existing, really good technology."

In a conventional mammogram, the breasts are compressed and X-rayed four times: side to side and top to bottom, for both the left and the right breast. To take the 3-D images, an arm of the machine sweeps in an arc around the breast during each of the four compressions, taking anywhere from 20 to 60 pictures to produce a 3-D rendering of the breast. These images look almost like holograms; radiologists can spin and flip them around on a computer screen, searching for cancer in the tissue and lymph nodes.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Fighting breast cancer
Local News

Local News
  • State sets tax holiday BOSTON -- Shoppers will get a holiday from the state sales tax on Aug. 16 and 17, after state lawmakers finally agreed on a weekend. The tax-free holiday has been an annual event since 2004, with the exception of 2009, when the state raised the sales

    August 1, 2014

  • crab Little green invaders threatening local clam flats IPSWICH -- The green crab is eating our lunch. It's been eating its way through Northeastern shellfish for years, and some local experts are worried that the undersized crustacean, about 31/2 to 4 inches across, has reached critical mass. The creatur

    August 1, 2014 2 Photos

  • Shoppers1 Despite shopping elsewhere, Market Basket customers remain loyal

    SALEM -- Local Market Basket customers can't hold out any longer as the company continues to weigh offers to buy the chain, including one from ousted CEO Arthur T. Demoulas. "I'm very proud of the employees and customers who have been holding out," s

    August 1, 2014 4 Photos 4 Stories

  • 140731_SN_DLE_APARTMENT6 Developer unveils new Peabody Square apartments PEABODY -- It's an indication of what he and his business partners want to do in the city's downtown, Norman Lee said Thursday as he showed off the stylish interiors of 10 brand-new apartments above Congressman John Tierney's office in Peabody Square

    August 1, 2014 10 Photos

  • Scandal raises questions about speaker's powers BOSTON -- The speaker of the state House of Representatives gets far-reaching powers to carve up the budget, control which bills advance, dole out committee chairmanships and reward favored lawmakers with plum office space on Beacon Hill. But the spe

    August 1, 2014