First 3-D mammography service launches

A new service to better detect breast cancer has been launched by Bermuda Cancer and Health Centre.

Digital breast tomosynthesis or 3-D mammography enables radiologists to see more clearly and is a first for the island.

BCHC executive director Tara Curtis said: “If you have a family history of breast cancer in which you may benefit from screening before the age of 40 years or have dense breast tissue, 3-D mammography represents the greatest advancement in early breast cancer detection in the past ten years.”

The process is performed at the same time as a traditional 2-D mammogram, on the same scanner with no major difference in the experience or time expended for the patient.

Chief technologist of diagnostic imaging Rona Donawa added: “There is an increased benefit to women with dense breast tissue because dense breast tissue may look similar to cancer tissue.

“2-D mammography can’t always differentiate between cancer and dense breast tissue.

“For example, if a 2-D mammogram detects an area of concern, the radiologists may want to further investigate with a diagnostic mammogram, ultrasound or biopsy.

“Looking at the same breast tissue in 3-D, the radiologist may now see that the tissue is, in fact, normal breast tissue. In this scenario, the patient will likely avoid a callback for an additional mammogram.”

3-D mammography is an optional service for the patient that supplements the traditional mammographic images.

Although 2-D digital mammography remains the gold standard for early detection, 3-D images can offer better visualisation for radiologists who are helping certain groups of patients, particularly those with dense breasts.

The procedure is similar to a conventional digital screening mammogram — it creates multiple images or “slices” that step through the breast tissue and helps reduce the impact of overlapping breast tissue.

The minimal radiation dose is about the same for 3-D mammography as it is for traditional 2-D mammography, according to the Society of Breast Imagers and the American College of Radiology.

To schedule a 3-D mammogram, call Bermuda Cancer and Health Centre at 236-1001.