Imagine trying to find a specific snowball in the middle of a snowstorm, or a needle in a haystack. Not easy, right? For women with dense breast tissue, finding breast cancer in its early stages can be equally challenging. Thankfully, a new tool at Lexington Medical Center is making that job easier.
As part of a comprehensive program for the diagnosis of breast cancer, Lexington Medical Center now offers 3-D mammography. This new breast cancer screening tool uses a low-dose X-ray to create images of the breast that allow doctors to view tissue one millimeter at a time. The technology creates multiple images within seconds that are similar to the “slices” of images in a CT scan.
“Lexington Medical Center is excited to offer this leading-edge technology for breast cancer screening,” said Dr. Beth Siroty-Smith, director of Women’s Imaging services for Lexington Radiology Associates at Lexington Medical Center. “3-D mammography reduces difficulties in identifying abnormalities in women with denser breast tissue and results in increased cancer detection.”
3-D mammography, also known as digital breast tomosynthesis (DBT), is currently recommended for women who are having their first screening mammogram or who have dense breast tissue.
The term “dense breasts” refers to the appearance of breast tissue on a mammogram. Dense breast tissue appears as a solid white area, which makes it difficult to see through. Non-dense breast tissue appears dark and transparent.
Dense breast tissue can make it more difficult to interpret a mammogram, since cancer and dense breast tissue both appear white on a mammogram. Very dense breasts may increase the risk that cancer won’t be detected on a mammogram.
Studies in The Journal of The American Medical Association have shown that 3-D mammography increases breast cancer detection, and reduces false positives and unnecessary callbacks for patients with dense breast tissue.
Available since this past spring, Lexington Medical Center was the first facility in the Midlands to offer this technology. Women who have completed a 3-D mammography screening at Lexington Medical Center also report that the procedure is less painful and more tolerable than the traditional 2-D mammogram.
The FDA-approved procedure uses the same type of equipment as a 2-D mammogram and a similar dose of radiation. Women who have questions about whether or not they should receive a 3-D mammogram should talk to their doctor.
You may be more likely to have dense breasts if you’re younger. Breast tissue tends to become less dense as you age, although some women have dense breast tissue at any age. Premenopausal women and women who take hormone therapy for menopause are also more likely to have dense breast tissue.
Women who are having a first screening mammogram or whose doctors have told them they have dense breast tissue may schedule a 3-D mammogram at Lexington Medical Center’s Women’s Imaging facility on the main hospital campus in West Columbia. Women’s Imaging will nearly double the number of daily scheduling slots in an effort to accommodate all interested women. Evening and weekend hours will also soon be available. To schedule an appointment, please call (803) 791-2486.
In addition to being an American College of Radiology Breast Imaging Center of Excellence, Lexington Medical Center’s breast program has accreditation from the National Accreditation Program for Breast Centers and the cancer program has accreditation with commendation by the American College of Surgeons Commission on Cancer.
For more information, visit LexMed.com.