The cold plates squeezed down on her breast and she winced in discomfort. In that moment she realized why she hated getting this done. It hurt like hell. After getting a clean bill of health last year she was back for another routine mammogram. The news was shocking. It appeared that she had a lump. Follow-up testing and scans revealed that it had spread to her lungs. How did it spread so quickly? Why wasn’t it detected during her last mammogram?
This may be a hypothetical situation but according to the National Cancer Institute, mammograms can miss over 20 percent of breast cancer cases present during routine screenings. The twenty minute procedure is a two-dimensional view and takes only two X-ray images of each breast. Doctors are missing the opportunity to detect breast cancer early in some patients because of the limited dimensional view used by conventional mammograms. The problem is that the X-ray is viewing the breasts in a single shot and the image will miss tumors if tissue is superimposed in front of it.
Ian Shaw, Hologic’s product engineer explains the limitations of the 2-D mammogram as taking a picture of a tree in front of a house. Part of the house will not be seen in the photograph unless the angle is changed. This shift in the viewing capabilities of mammograms from two-dimensional to three-dimensional is the new wave of the future. Breast cancer screenings will experience an upgrade in 2009 with the help of Hologic, Inc. Hologic is a leader in mammogram technology and they have risen to the challenge and are ready to launch their much anticipated improvement for breast cancer detection. This new form of mammography incorporates a three-dimensional view of the breasts through a process called digital tomosynthesis. Even more this latest advancement to mammography will allow about 100 images of each breast at slightly different angles to be taken. Radiologists will now have a wider selection of images to review and determine with greater accuracy whether or not tumors are evident.
The technology of tomosynthesis introduces a few advantages over the current 2-D mammography procedure. The future of mammograms through Hologic’s technology allows for a deeper view of breast tissue. The ability to take snapshots in various angles provides radiologists with a more intricate and detailed view of the breast. Another benefit of the 3-D mammogram is better detection and as a result earlier treatment. Approximately, 10 percent of women returning for a second mammogram show evidence of breast cancer that was previously missed. The use of tomosynthesis reduces the rate of this occurrence by 50 percent. This will help to minimize the number of diagnostic errors made by mammograms.
Tomosynthesis is cutting-edge technology and Hologic is the first to bring this level of advanced mammography to enhance breast cancer detection. 2009 is the beginning of an exciting opportunity for patients undergoing breast cancer screenings. Hologic’s technology holds the promise of saving more lives just by seeing a bit deeper.