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Breast Cancer Health Center

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Adding 3-D Mammograms May Improve Accuracy

Combination Screening Also Reduced Unnecessary Recalls, Researchers Find

3-D Plus Conventional: Study Results continued...

The impact of the 3-D mammogram on diagnosing cancer in dense breasts, she says, has been even better in her other research. "Women with dense breasts are at higher risk and their cancers are more difficult to find," she says.

The rate of false-positive recalls for more testing declined by nearly 40%.

At Massachusetts General, the 3-D mammograms are done at no additional charge, Rafferty says. Other institutions may charge $30 to $50 extra, Culley says. Sometimes insurance covers the bill, he says.

One of the study authors is an employee of Hologic and another is a statistical consultant. The researchers who do not have industry conflict, including Rafferty, had control of the data and report for the journal.

3-D Mammograms: Second Opinion

Although the study is well done, there is still work to be done on 3-D mammograms before they can be called a game-changer, says Debra Monticciolo, MD. She is chair of the American College of Radiology's Quality and Safety Commission, and president of the Society of Breast Imaging. She reviewed the findings for WebMD.

One drawback, she says, is that women who get both tests are exposed to more radiation. "Each of their patients got twice the dose," she says of their study participants, ''even though the combined dose is less than the FDA [acceptable] limits."

"I think it is going to be one of those things that will help us," says Monticciolo, vice chair of research at Scott & White Health Care in Temple, Texas. "But we still need more data."

Eventually, Rafferty says, it will be possible to have only the 3-D test, reducing the total radiation dose.

That is possible, Culley says, because of a new process by which the computer can create a synthesized 2-D image from the 3-D, without actually doing the 2-D mammogram. Then, the radiologist can review both images while reducing the radiation exposure.

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