Advances in Technology Give a New Dimension to Breast Cancer Detection

Posted on Aug 16, 2013

by Mark Goldsmith, M.D.

breast-imaging-technologyThe best defense against breast cancer is early detection. One of the most common tools we use to detect breast cancer is imaging, such as mammography or ultrasound. Advances in technology now allow us to produce highly detailed, multi-dimensional images, which improve cancer screening and detection.

Eden Medical Center is home to two of the most advanced breast imaging modalities available: magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and breast tomosynthesis (3D mammograms). Eden physicians can now use these imaging methods to detect cancer in its earliest stages through in-depth images that were not attainable before.

Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)

MRI is a noninvasive technique and does not involve exposure to radiation. Instead, this imaging test uses strong magnetic fields, radio frequency pulses and a computer monitor to produce detailed pictures of organs, soft tissues and bones.

A breast MRI is not meant to replace mammography, but is used as a supplemental tool for women at high risk for breast cancer or to help determine the extent of cancer after a new diagnosis. Breast MRI can also be used to further evaluate abnormalities found in a routine mammogram.

Breast Tomosynthesis

Another high-tech tool in the fight against breast cancer is breast tomosynthesis, a revolutionary technique approved by the FDA in 2011. Also known as 3D mammography, it has enabled radiologists to view the inside of the breast layer-by-layer, helping to see fine details more closely, especially in women with dense breasts. 3D mammograms have greatly improved cancer detection and helped to reduce false positives, which have decreased patient anxiety, expense and inconvenience.

During the procedure, multiple low-dose images called “slices” of the breast are taken at different angles. Like a regular mammogram, the patient is exposed to very low doses of radiation, well below government safety standards.

And like breast MRIs, tomosynthesis is not a replacement for a regular mammogram. Tomosynthesis is a valuable tool for women with dense breasts because the images can minimize overlapping tissue. The technique is also used as a follow up to a mammogram because it can offer a better view of the size, shape and location of an abnormality.

Talk to your doctor if you have a family history of breast cancer, dense breasts or any concern about the health of your breasts. And if further studies are needed, physicians at Eden now have two powerful tools available to diagnose and treat breast cancer.

Mark Goldsmith, M.D., is a board-certified radiologist affiliated with Eden Medical Center. Come hear Dr. Goldsmith talk about the new breast imaging technology at Eden Medical Center at an open house at the Imaging Center on Thursday, October 10 from 6:00-9:00 p.m. Call 1-888-445-8433 for more information and to register.

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