We all know the benefits of breast screening and its ability to give women the earliest indication possible of cancerous changes in the breast and give them the best possible chance at beating it. So the introduction of 3D mammography to the UK in recent years has been a huge development in breast screening.
Finally, the full picture
Otherwise known as breast tomosynthesis, 3D mammography – just like standard breast screening – uses X-rays to produce images of breast tissue in order to detect lumps, tumours or other abnormalities. But while standard breast screening produces just two images of each breast (a side-to-side view and a top-to-bottom view), 3D mammography captures multiple ‘slices’ of the breast from every conceivable angle – which can be brought together create a pin-sharp 3D reconstruction of the breast.
This means that a radiologist would be able to review reconstruction in minute detail: if they need to, they could leaf through the 3D image one slice at a time, as if they were turning pages in a book. This means that if anything that should be there is there – no matter how small – it won’t be missed, which means that the chances of false-positive and false-negative readings could be vastly reduced. And it’s especially good news for those of us who have dense breast tissue – the 3D screening can offer a far clearer picture of what’s going on.
What happens during a 3D mammography procedure?
It’s pretty similar to a standard screening: you’ll be asked to remove any clothing above the waist, as well as any jewellery or other objects that might interfere with the imaging process. You’ll then be positioned before the machine, and your breasts will be held in place by two compression plates.
The scan, which takes between two and three seconds, is recorded by a robotic arm which will move in an arc above your breasts. The dosage is similar to film mammography and is only slightly higher than in standard 2D digital mammography. The entire procedure takes approximately 10 to 20 minutes. Essentially, if you’ve been through breast screening before, you already know what to expect.
The benefits of a vastly improved screening system are manifold – to both the patient and the medical community. As we all know, the earlier cancer is detected, the better chance the patient has of overcoming it – and an earlier and more accurate diagnosis means fewer unnecessary call-backs, savings across the board for clinics, and improved peace of mind.
This development has produced a marked improvement in cancer detection in the USA and we’re delighted to be able to offer to our patients at Thames Breast Clinic. If you want to know more about 3D mammography and the breast cancer screening service we offer, call us on 0800 612 9490