New 3-D breast screening technology finds more breast cancers

Author: Natalya Lvoff, MD, Medical Director, Marin Healthcare District Breast Health Center

Early detection of breast cancer is critical. Early detection reduces deaths, extends life expectancy, and improves quality of life. The goal is to find breast cancer early, when treatment is most likely to be successful. Early breast cancer detection enables less extensive surgery, fewer mastectomies, and less aggressive chemotherapy.

The key to early detection of breast cancer is annual screening mammography beginning at age 40. This is the screening regimen that saves the most lives. Delaying screening mammography or increasing the interval between screenings will result in delayed diagnosis, larger tumor size, and increased risk for the cancer to spread to other organs. This will lead to more extensive surgeries, more aggressive treatment, and potentially unsuccessful treatment.

The enemy of conventional mammography is superimposition, or the overlap of normal breast tissue. This overlap of tissue can mimic breast cancer, resulting in additional imaging and sometimes biopsy. Even worse is that superimposition can hide breast cancers, particularly in women with dense breasts.

The future of screening mammography is tomosynthesis. Tomosynthesis is a three-dimensional mammogram. Multiple images of the breast are acquired at different angles, and then reconstructed into thin slices, allowing a radiologist to better see around overlapping structures. The radiologist reads the study like a digital book, or a CT scan.

Tomosynthesis has shown to increase the detection of invasive breast cancer by more than 40%. Additionally, there is a 15% decrease in the number of women who are called back from screening mammography for additional imaging. Fewer women called back translates into less patient anxiety, less additional imaging, and fewer biopsies.

The NEW Marin Healthcare District Breast Health Center will be the first to offer tomosynthesis in Marin County. Our new center has four brand new tomosynthesis machines, a 3D compatible stereotactic biopsy table, two breast ultrasound machines, and for the first time, we will also be offering onsite bone densitometry. The new center takes our current award-winning program to the next level.

A Visionary New Healing Place for Women

Women getting their first, or even thirty-first mammograms are in for a unique experience at Marin’s new Breast Health Center, an expansion of Marin General Hospital’s Breast Health Program and a new offering of the Marin Healthcare District. Opening June 19, the new Breast Health Center is the first and only healthcare provider in Marin to offer 3-D tomosynthesis, the most accurate form of mammography available. Other advanced technologies include breast ultrasound, stereotactic and 3-D core biopsy and bone density screening. 

A special feature of the new center is the interior design, reflecting a healing place philosophy and helping to lessen the anxiety that typically accompanies the screening experience. Public and waiting areas feature natural light and views of the natural landscape along the Corte Madera Creek waterfront, while imaging and diagnostic areas have spa-like, soothing interiors.

Marin Healthcare District Breast Health Center
100A Drakes Landing Road, Suite 140
Greenbrae, CA 94904