3-D mammograms give more complete picture

June 22, 2017 GMT

Since December, when 3-D mammography was introduced to Parkview Health Systems at Parkview Warsaw, the new technology has accounted for about 35 percent of breast exams.

Soon, 3-D mammograms will be offered throughout the Parkview network. They cost about $70 more than conventional 2-D mammograms but take more detailed images of the breast tissue, said Jessica Miller, public relations manager at Parkview Health.

Amanda Lord, imaging manager at Warsaw, said benefits include detecting breast cancer at an earlier stage.

“We just had one young lady, 39, who had felt lumps in her breast,” Lord said.

“We performed the exam, and when the radiologist looked at her images, because she had the 3-D technology, she did not need any more imaging and did not need a breast ultrasound study.”

Kristi Desenberg, a technician at Warsaw who has been performing mammographies for 20 years, said she underwent special training to operate the 3-D machines.

“The difference is to take images in a 1-millimeter section, taking multiple pictures and allowing the radiologist to see more of the tissue,” Desenberg said.

According to www.breastcancer.org, 3-D technology creates a picture of the breast using X-rays from several low-dose images from different angles. Conventional 2-D technology creates an image from two X-ray images of each breast.

The technology introduced about six years ago finds 40 percent more invasive cancers missed with conventional 2-D mammography and reduces the need for a follow-up mammogram by up to 40 percent, according to LutheranHealth.net.

Dupont, Lutheran and Kosciusko Community hospitals, all in the Lutheran Health Network, have 3-D mammography available, said Geoff Thomas, public relations supervisor. Dupont was the first to offer it in January 2015. St. Joseph, another Lutheran hospital, will have it at its Lake Avenue imaging site by the end of May, Thomas added.

Dr. Joe DeCamp, radiologist with Summit Radiology and Dupont Hospital Center for Breast Health, lays out the advantages in a two-minute video.

“The biggest benefit is fewer callbacks,” DeCamp said. “That means fewer patients will receive a phone call after their screening mammogram requesting that they come for additional views.

“That translates into less anxiety, worrying about what may or may not be in the breast that was caught on our initial 2-D study.”

The benefit of the X-rays, which require the patient to hold their positioning about 10 seconds longer than 2-D mammography, far outweigh radiation concerns, DeCamp added.

Miller said more insurance companies are covering 3-D mammographies, including Medicare, Medicaid, some Anthem and some Cigna.

Thomas said Lutheran has a program that will help women financially if they cannot afford the extra cost.

Yes, costs are a consideration, Lord said, but there is a “bigger message, that of saving a patient’s peace of mind, less radiation and time of having to go back and get further treatment.”