A major study in Sweden found that 3D mammography detects 34% more cancers compared to traditional mammography. The extensive screening study was conducted by Lund University and Skane University Hospital and looked at 15,000 women over five years.
So what’s the difference between a 3D mammogram and a regular one, and why is 3D better? A regular mammogram will look at breast tissue as captured by a single image, while a 3D mammogram looks at breast tissue in several layers.
“With digital mammography, 3D tomosynthesis, we’re taking thin slices through the breast tissue, like slices of a loaf of bread,” said Dr. Connie Lehman, the Chief of the Breast Imaging Division at Massachusetts General Hospital. “We can look at each slice independently rather than trying to see through the entire thickness of the entire loaf of bread.”
The 3D mammogram is not perfect, however. It’s important to note that the new study’s researchers found that this method led to more women being called back for additional testing.
“We did, however, need to call back a few more women for additional examinations compared to traditional mammography,” said Sophia Zachrisson, a radiologist at Skane University. “We needed to confirm that these women did not have cancer, as this method finds more structures in the breast in general. So, there was an increased call-back rate.”