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New 3D mammogram technology

New 3D mammogram technology now in Pretoria.

03 August 2013 | Natalie Grobler

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The latest and innovative mammography technology recently reached Pretoria and the hope for this new 3D technology is that it will help spot lumps in the breast before they develop into cancer.

The 3D mammography gives radiologists the ability to view inside the breast layer by layer, helping them to see the finer details more clearly by minimising overlapping tissue.

Dr Herman Fourie, a radiologist at the Femina Hospital, said that during a 3D mammogram, multiple low-dose images known as ‘slices’ of the breast are acquired from different angles. “With this new technology we can now view the breast in a way never before possible.”

He said the 3D exam is performed in the same way as a 2D mammogram with only a slight eight-second pressure applied to the breast. Fourie said that the complete exam, which consists of four different views, lasts less than a minute.

“By minimising the impact of overlapping breast tissue, 3D mammography can help improve breast cancer screening and cancer detection. With 3D mammography, radiologists are currently experiencing a 30% to 40% increase in detection of breast cancer. Once diagnosed, radiologists can better see the size, shape and location of an abnormality,” Fourie said.

He said that although the amount of radiation applied varies from person to person, it is still less than conventional 2D film/screen mammography but slightly higher than a full field digital 2D mammogram because the 2D is still included in the 3D series. The amount of radiation is below government safety standards (3mGy).

The benefits of 3D breast tomosynthesis include 40% less recalls, 30% more cancer detection, better lesion edge analysis, better localisation of lesions and less compression needed.

He said that with 2D mammography, about 20% of early breast cancers are missed and approximately 10% of women are recalled for additional work-up and a significant portion prove to have no abnormality, resulting in unnecessary anxiety and cost.

Fourie said that it is imperative that women have their breasts screened and tested because breast cancer is the most common cancer in women.

He said that it is the second leading cause of cancer deaths in women, but that mortality rates have declined due to the success in early detection and treatment.

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