Advances in technology continue to make mammography screenings more effective by helping to diagnose breast cancer at earlier stages, resulting in less extensive treatment and higher survival rates.
Tomosynthesis, commonly referred to as 3D mammography, is expanding the ﬁeld of breast imaging. Tomosynthesis acquires multiple images of the breasts simultaneously, allowing breast imaging specialists to see through layers of tissue.
As a result, these physicians can identify smaller lesions or areas of architectural distortion produced by early stage breast cancer, often hidden by overlapping dense breast tissue on traditional 2D images.
Tomosynthesis is particularly useful for women with medium to extremely dense breast tissue. In fact, research has shown that this breast imaging tool improves cancer detection in patients with dense breasts by up to 30 percent. By identifying smaller tumors or areas of concern earlier, breast imaging specialists can then biopsy these lesions, utilizing the advanced 3D mammographic technology.
The Afﬁrm stereotactic breast biopsy system is a minimally invasive device which includes a specialized vacuum assisted needle that is guided to an abnormality shown on the 3D mammogram.
This technique offers several improvements over traditional prone position stereotactic biopsy procedures.
A key advantage to the Afﬁrm technology is the utilization of the same imaging method for not only diagnosis, but also intervention (biopsy).
In addition, the procedure is performed with the patient in an upright, seated position rather than the usual mode of biopsy with the patient lying on her stomach. The upright seated biopsy position is generally much more comfortable for the patient and allows the imaging specialist to logistically biopsy lesions located within the far posterior aspect of the breast near the chest wall.
The 3D-guided upright stereotactic breast biopsy usually takes less time to perform and patients continue to only need local anesthesia.
The patient can be in and out of the procedure within an hour, and can return to daily activities with limited restrictions.
In summary, the 3D mammographic technology enables physicians to more accurately discover early stage cancers, biopsy them and then identify the best treatment options for patients.
Early detection is critical in the battle against breast cancer.
Regardless of the mammography technology available, women should get regular annual mammograms beginning at age 40 (or possibly earlier for patients with a strong family history of breast cancer).