New study finds 3-D mammograms more effective at finding tumors

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The verdict is still out on 3-D mammography. Still, medical centers across the United States are investing in machines that can take the 3-D scans, including the Breast Center at Huntsville Hospital for Women and Children.

“With the implementation of 3-D mammography we’re able to use the conventional mammographic views, but instead of acquiring four images, in the same amount of time we’re able to acquire a set of images that allow us to generate a 3-dimensional look into the breast,” said Dr. Robin Gwaltney.

While the center’s machines are 3-D ready, they have yet to start using the technology.

“Implementation at a center that does as many mammograms as we do in a year does take time, ” said Gwaltney. But they hope to start offering the 3-D mammograms “as soon as possible.”

A recent study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that 3-D mammography increased the number of invasive cancers found by .12%. It also reduced the rate of recalls, where women are called in for additional scans, by 1.6%.

“Most of the time those are for abnormalities that aren’t abnormalities, but we need to take additional views to figure that out” said Gwaltney. She believes fewer recalls lead to less stress for patients and their families.

Getting a 3-D mammogram takes no more time than the conventional mammogram, but the cost is high. Currently insurance companies consider the test “experimental” and do not cover it.

But Gwaltney is hopeful that will soon change.

“Hopefully with the latest study that will boost their data and confirm yes, this is a beneficial tool.”