A state-of-the-art mammogram machine that provides drastically clearer, more detailed results is available to patients at Santa Barbara Women’s Imaging Center, where staff are already finding small breast cancers that previously escaped detection.
The practice headed up by Dr. Judy Dean is one of the first in the country to boast the Selenia Dimensions digital tomosynthesis/3D mammography system and its accompanying “C-View” feature, which allows doctors to provide 3D mammography at a radiation dose that is the same as the dose for a standard 2D digital mammogram.
The machine — created by Hologic — is similar to the 2D system except that the X-ray tube that collects images is moving during a mammogram, collecting multiple snapshots from different angles.
Dean told Noozhawk the result is a stack of thin “slice” images, spaced 1 millimeter apart and reviewed along with standard 2D projections.
“Instead of only four pictures, you get hundreds,” she said. “It makes a huge difference. We are already seeing small cancers with this that we cannot see with 2D.”
The imaging center, formerly Dean's practice, regularly receives the latest technology before other practices because of its breast-imaging specialty.
Dean said the center has been using the new machine since December, which is when her practice merged with Pueblo Radiology. The latest feature arrived last week.
On an afternoon last week, Dean examined the results of several mammograms and noted a small, clearly defined cancer that would not have been visible using 2D technology alone.
She likened the new technology to a CT-scan, and said the moving camera will be the only noticeable difference for patients undergoing the testing procedure.
So far, Dean said the 3D mammography system has reduced the number of false positive cancer diagnoses and increased detection 20 percent to 40 percent, with a recall rate reduced by 50 percent.
Local detection improvements are along national lines, where many sites using Selenia Dimensions breast tomosynthesis reported a 20 percent to 40 percent reduction in recall rates, 27 percent improvement in cancer detection rates and 40 percent increase in invasive cancer detection, according to the manufacturer’s website.
Dean pointed out that the new technology benefits women of all ages and all tissue densities, although those with denser breast tissue especially benefit.