Greenwood Leflore Hospital health care providers are excited that the hospital will soon offer its patients state-of-the-art 3D mammography exams.
The 3D exam provides better, earlier breast cancer detection and is the only mammogram approved by the FDA as superior for women with dense breasts compared to 2D alone.
“I can’t wait,” said Alma Jones, mammography supervisor at Greenwood Leflore Hospital. “I’ve been looking forward to this. We’ve had patients asking about it.”
Lynn Bryant, director of radiology, said he’s also heard some patients inquire about the new mammography technology. “Now we are able to offer that here, and hopefully that will help our patients in this area,” he said.
The hospital expects to have the machine available to patients in mid- to late October.
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The Genius 3D Mammography machine, developed by Hologic, uses advanced breast tomosynthesis technology. According to Hologic, Genius 3D exams are clinically proven to significantly increase the detection of breast cancers. Compared to the conventional 2D mammograms, 3D exams detect 20% to 65% more invasive breast cancers.
“It’s highly rated,” said Bryant. “We’ve always had Hologic here. ... We have looked at some other 3D machines, and we just thought that this was the best option out there for us.”
One of the best features of the 3D exam is the decrease in the number of patients who are asked to return for additional testing. Hologic says that the Genius exam reduces callbacks by up to 40% compared to 2D.
“The name of the game is detecting early breast cancer, but with 2D you couldn’t see through the breast as well as what we’re going to be able to see with the 3D,” said Jones, who is a breast cancer survivor. “It’s going to reduce calling patients back for additional imaging and ultrasound, because it’s going to help us see through that tissue much better.”
Rather than getting the one standard view with 2D, Jones said that 3D tomosynthesis is “like taking a slice of bread, and you’re just taking slices all through that breast. If you have a very dense breast, that’s going to help you see through that dense tissue a lot better with the 3D tomo than what we can see with the 2D.”
Many times, dense breast tissue can make it difficult for doctors to detect cancer during screenings, and women with dense breast tissue are more likely to develop breast cancer. Almost 50% of women between the ages of 40 and 74 have dense breasts.
According to Hologic, since the breast is a three-dimensional structure composed of different structures located at different heights within the breast, these structures can overlap and cause confusion when viewed as a flat two-dimensional image. This is one of the main reasons why small breast cancers may be missed and normal tissue may appear abnormal, which leads to patient callbacks.
“The 3D machine will reduce the amount of false positives,” said Bryant, who added that the new machine will reduce patient anxiety associated with callbacks.
The 3D image will enable radiologists to more clearly see through overlapping tissue to detect cancers, often at an earlier stage.
“With the 3D, I think most of the people who come back, they are going to be more likely to be somebody who is going to have something going on there, maybe a true positive,” said Jones.
Hologic says women will see little difference between a conventional 2D mammogram and a 3D mammogram. The exam takes about the same amount of time — a 3.7-second scan time — and the positioning is the same.
During the 3D exam, an X-ray arm sweeps in a slight arc over the breast, taking multiple images. A computer then converts the images into a stack of thin layers, allowing the radiologist to review the breast tissue a layer at a time. A Genius 3D exam requires no additional compression and takes just a few seconds longer than a conventional 2D breast cancer screening exam.
Women with dense breast tissue, however, will have a more comfortable experience, Jones said.
“The paddle is a curved paddle, and that’s going to make this a little more comfortable — if we can use that word for a mammogram — during the compression,” she said. “The curved paddle is going to make that compression just a little easier for the patients. It’s a much better patient experience for women with dense breasts.”
Jones said it’s important that the patients who have dense tissue to have a better experience since they have a higher risk of developing breast cancer.
“You don’t want them to have a bad experience, because they’re the very ones who need to make sure they get in here at six-month intervals or annually, whichever the radiologist recommends,” she said.
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The 3D exam’s biggest advantage over the 2D is the information available to the doctor.
“It can make a big difference in what type of treatment they might have if you can catch those calcifications, which are the earliest stages of breast cancer that can only be detected on a mammogram,” said Jones. “That’s why mammography is so important.”
Jones said she hopes that the new machine will help patients feel better about coming to get their mammogram.
“I’m excited that we’re getting this, because I know it’s better for all my patients,” she said. “And that’s what we are here for is to provide the best care possible for them.”
Bryant said he hopes that the 3D machine and its ability to detect cancer at earlier stages will make patients feel more comfortable when scheduling an exam.
“Even for those people who have not gone to the doctor or even requested to have a mammogram done,” he said. “Those are the people who we’re trying to reach and get something earlier done versus later when you feel a lump. Start that screening early.”
•Contact Ruthie Robison at 581-7235 or email@example.com.