physicians have a new weapon in the battle against breast cancer. In
April, ProHealth Care became the first health care system in Wisconsin
to offer three-dimensional mammography, which helps detect breast
cancer at the earliest stages.
the most significant advancement we have seen in breast imaging,"
says Dr. Jennifer Bergin, ProHealth Care’s medical director of
breast imaging. "There are two main benefits over traditional
two-dimensional mammography. It can help us find up to 20 percent more
cancers, especially in women with dense breasts. It also helps us
distinguish harmless abnormalities from real tumors, leading to fewer
callbacks and less inconvenience and cost," she says. Most
importantly, it will help find cancer earlier, which means better
outcomes and a higher survival rate for patients.
which was recently approved by the Food & Drug Administration, is
called tomosynthesis. It uses specialized computing to convert digital
breast images into "slices" to build a 3D graphic image.
Now, 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. Fine details are more clearly visible, no longer hidden by the
tissue above and below.
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. Michelle Luckiesh, a
43-year-old breast cancer survivor, recently opted to have her annual
mammogram done in 3D at Waukesha Memorial Hospital. "They offered
the 3D mammogram to me and I said, ‘Absolutely.’ The procedure
doesn’t really take any longer and I think that being able to see
the results is very important. It put me a bit more at ease," she
probably the biggest benefit is the added assurance 3D mammograms
offer in making a diagnosis. "It has already helped us to detect
breast cancer in a few women that we might not have seen with the