"This is the most significant advancement in breast imaging since the beginning of mammography," said Jennifer Bergin, M.D., ProHealth Care's medical director of breast imaging. "It will help us find cancers earlier, which will mean better outcomes and a higher survival rate for our patients."
The technology, called tomosynthesis, uses specialized computing to convert digital breast images into a stack of very thin layers or "slices," to build a 3D graphic image. During the exam, the X-ray arm sweeps in an arc over the breast, taking multiple images in only seconds. A computer then produces a 3D image of the patient's breast tissue in one-millimeter layers.
The 3D mammography gives radiologists the ability to see breast tissue detail in a way never before possible. Instead of viewing all the complexities of the breast tissue in a flat image, the doctor can examine the tissue one millimeter at a time, like flipping through the pages of a book. Fine details are more clearly visible, no longer hidden by the tissue above and below.
The Center for Breast Care at Waukesha Memorial Hospital is the first ProHealth Care location with the tomosynthesis technology.
Recently approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, tomosynthesis may be able to find up to 20 percent more cancers than conventional mammography. With 3D mammography, radiologists have the ability to detect and diagnose the smallest cancers, as well as rule out abnormalities that may have looked suspicious in a traditional 2D mammogram. This will reduce the need for women to be called back for additional imaging or biopsies.
"In cancer and other areas of care, we work very hard to make sure our patients benefit from the latest medical technologies," said John Robertstad, president of ProHealth's hospital division. "Tomosynthesis is the latest example of that."
The new technology is especially significant for those with a genetic predisposition for breast cancer as well as for breast cancer survivors, who are at risk for recurrence.
Breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death among women, exceeded only by lung cancer. One in eight women will develop breast cancer at some point in their lives. If detected early, the five-year survival rate is 97 percent.
Funding for the new 3D mammography at ProHealth Care was provided in part by the RiverWalk for Cancer, which supports cancer research, education, and state-of-the-art technology at ProHealth Care's Center for Breast Care. ProHealth's Walks for Cancer will be held May 5 in Waukesha, Mukwonago and Oconomowoc.
For more information about 3D mammography, visit www.prohealthcare.org/breasthealth.