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WALTHAM, Mass., — Massachusetts General Hospital imaging has begun offering 3D mammography at its Mass General Waltham Imaging location (40 Second Avenue, The PARC Center), providing women with convenient, local access to a new technology that provides improved breast cancer detection while also reducing false-positive results that often lead to additional tests and additional anxiety.
3D mammography, also known as tomosynthesis, improves the radiologists' ability to screen for and detect potential breast cancers by helping to pinpoint the size, shape, and location of abnormalities. This helps the radiologist distinguish harmless structures from real tumors, leading to fewer repeat examinations.
"Tomosynthesis represents a huge step forward for mammography, capitalizing on its strengths and addressing its flaws,” said Elizabeth Rafferty, MD, director of Breast Imaging at Mass General. “By allowing us to look between and around the normal structures of the breast we are finding cancers that are simply not visible on standard digital mammograms. This technology is truly amazing, and it is our patients who will benefit."
Mass General Imaging's Breast Imaging Division, under Rafferty’s leadership, was instrumental in the development and clinical trials of tomosynthesis. The new technology received FDA approval in February, and Mass General Imaging performed the nation's first tomosynthesis exam in Boston in March. 3D mammography is also available at Mass General Imaging - Worcester.
Conventional mammography images the entire breast in one exposure, resulting in a 2D picture in which features can be hidden by overlapping tissue. 3D mammography takes images from multiple angles and uses computer processing to build these "slices" into a 3D image that a radiologist can manipulate to get a clearer view. "Like flipping through the pages of a book, the radiologist is able to look at one page at a time instead of seeing the whole breast reduced to a single snapshot, as is the case with standard mammography," Rafferty said.
Tomosynthesis is complementary to standard mammography, which remains the "gold standard" for breast cancer detection. Experts expect tomosynthesis to eventually become the new gold standard, but for now, tomosynthesis is performed at the same time as a normal mammogram, on the same scanner. There is essentially no noticeable difference in the experience or time for the patient.
To learn more about breast tomosynthesis please visit www.3Dmammo.org. To schedule an exam, use the online appointment request form or call Mass General Waltham Imaging at 800-697-8296 or 781-487-6030.