What to expect during your exam

A tomosynthesis exam is very similar to a traditional mammogram. Just as with a digital mammogram, the technologist will positon you, compress your breast under a paddle and take images from different angles. A breast tomosynthesis exam may be used as a screening tool in conjunction with a traditional digital mammogram or may be used by itself for a diagnostc mammogram.

During the tomosynthesis portion of the exam, your breast will be under compression while the x-ray arm of the mammography machine makes a quick arc over the breast, taking a series of breast images at a number of angles. This will only take a few seconds and all of the images are viewed by the technologist at their computer workstaton to ensure they have captured adequate images for review by a radiologist.

The whole procedure time should be approximately the same as that of a digital mammogram. The technologist sends your breast images electronically to the radiologist, who studies them and reports results to either your physician or directly to you.

Screening for breast cancer

Doctors and scientsts agree that early detecton is the best defense against breast cancer. If we find cancer in its earliest stages, the chances of surviving it are good. Untl now, the best way to do that has been with digital mammography.

Digital mammography uses a specially designed digital camera and a computer to produce an image that is displayed on a high-resoluton computer monitor.

While digital mammography is still one of the most advanced technologies available today, it is only a two-dimensional picture of the breast. Since the breast is composed of pockets of dense tissue surrounded by fat, when x-rayed, it creates an image that looks something like a smoky haze. The overlapping tissue in the image makes it difficult to see tiny "spots", called microcalcifications, and other subtle signs of early cancer.

In some cases, the radiologist may ask you to come back for a follow-up examinaton such as a diagnostc mammogram to rule out any suspicious areas.

An additional screening tool

For decades doctors have been searching for a technology to help them find very small cancers or rule out “false positves” and reduce the number of women who are called back for a diagnostc mammogram.

Scientsts have developed a new technology called breast tomosynthesis, which has been shown in clinical studies to be superior to digital mammography.

Breast tomosynthesis allows doctors to examine breast tissue one layer at a time. This excitng new technology has been recently FDA approved and is now available.

Breast tomosynthesis is a new technology in the fight against breast cancer. Breast tomosynthesis may be used in conjuncton with traditional digital mammography as part of your annual screening mammogram to capture more breast images. Very low X-ray energy is used during the screening examinaton so your radiaton exposure is safely below the American College of Radiology (ACR) guidelines. Using breast tomosynthesis and digital mammography together for screening has been proven to reduce “call-backs”.

Breast tomosynthesis may also be used for a diagnostc mammogram if you happen to be called back for this type of exam.

What is breast tomosynthesis?

Breast tomosynthesis uses high-powered computng to convert digital breast images into a stack of very thin layers or “slices”—building what is essentally a “3-dimensional mammogram”.

During the tomosynthesis part of the exam, the X-ray arm sweeps in a slight arc over the breast, taking multple breast images in just seconds. A computer then produces a 3D image of your breast tissue in one millimeter layers.

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Now the radiologist can see breast tissue detail in a way never before possible. Instead of viewing all the complexites of your breast tissue in a flat image, the doctor can examine the tissue a millimeter at a time. Fine details are more clearly visible, no longer hidden by the tissue above and below.

■ Over two million breast cancer survivors are alive in the U.S. today
■ A woman's chance of developing cancer in her life is 1 in 8
■ A new breast cancer is diagnosed every 2.5 minutes
■ 88% of the pre-invasive breast cancer diagnosed is ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS)
■ One American woman dies from breast cancer every 13 minutes
■ Nearly 40,000 women die from breast cancer each year
■ Only lung cancer causes more cancer deaths in women
■ Approximately 1,500 male breast cancer cases will be diagnosed this year, and 400 men will die from this disease
■ The American Cancer Society spends nearly $100 million a year to research a cure for breast cancer
If you would like more information about breast cancer & breast cancer research visit:


Early Detection, The Key to Overcoming Breast Cancer

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Neary & Hunter OBGYN

Worcester, Massachusetts
Introduces Digital Mammography 2006