The Best Image with Less Compression and Less Radiation – Introducing 3D Tomosynthesis for Breast Cancer Screening

Since breast cancer is the number one-occurring cancer in women, it makes sense to focus on detection and treatment.  Dense breast tissue is one of the more challenging types to evaluate.  That’s why NOCHS has recently added 3D tomosynthesis (“tomo”) to its array of diagnostic tools.

The traditional 2D digital mammography equipment has been around since the 90s.  It was a vast improvement on the previous technique, which started with x-ray film.  The digital images provided more contrast, and could be manipulated to look more closely for cancerous conditions.  But even this technique had limitations in women with dense breast tissue.  Since approximately 50 percent of women have such tissue, screening for them traditionally involved a noteworthy percentage of callbacks and further testing.

Tomo provides a completely different technology for evaluating dense tissue. “This technology allows us to see the tissue in much thinner slices,” says Dr. Michael Schmidt of Envision Radiology. “This means the radiologist can look through the slices and precisely distinguish healthy tissue from potentially cancerous tissue.  This greatly reduces the number of emotionally stressful callbacks for women.”

NOCHS is the only place on the lakeshore where women can get the most accurate screening with less radiation.  Our tomo system combines both 2D and 3D images in high resolution.  “This is significant, because it reduces discomfort while exposing a woman to half as much radiation as she would get with separate 2D and 3D diagnostic studies,” says Dr. Schmidt.  It also means the image is extremely clear with excellent contrast.  The radiologists can spot smaller tumors, leading to earlier detection. And of course, earlier detection can mean many more lives saved. That’s important, because breast cancer is the leading cause of death in women ages 35-54.

“Early detection is the key,” says Dr. Schmidt.  “If we catch it at 10 millimeters or smaller, there’s an excellent chance of total cure. That’s why it’s so important for us to teach women to do self-exams, and to offer a comprehensive set of diagnostic imaging tools.”

NOCHS has a full imaging center for screening and biopsy. We have onsite, board-certified radiologists who read diagnostic studies and can perform next-day biopsies.  A woman can go from a suspicious mammogram, to a biopsy, to results, and be ready for an oncologist appointment in three days or less.  And we guide patients every step of the way. That’s simply unheard of in this day and age.

“You don’t need a doctor’s order to get a screening mammogram,” says Dr. Schmidt.  “Depending on individual risk factors, women should start having annual screenings in their 40s.  But it’s never too late to start!  If you do nothing else for your health, you should do this.”

Call NOCHS Breast Evaluation Center at 616.847.5430 to schedule your mammogram.



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