Report: 3-D Mammography Helpful in Early Cancer Detection - NBC29 WVIR Charlottesville, VA News, Sports and Weather

Report: 3-D Mammography Helpful in Early Cancer Detection

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Early detection of breast cancer is often the difference between life and death. A report out this week offers promising evidence that a 3-D mammogram detects cancer significantly earlier than the 2-D version.

For Elizabeth Andrews, 3-D mammography made a world of difference.

When doctors at the University of Virginia Medical Center told 49-year-old Andrews she had breast cancer last May, she was shocked because her regular mammogram never found it.

UVA doctors discovered the tumors after they looked at images from a 3-G mammogram - or tomosynthesis.

“I truly felt that having tomosynthesis saved my life and that it was early detection. Had I not had a mammogram this year or had tomosynthesis, the chances are it would not have been found,” said Andrews.

Andrews, a mother of three, is not alone.

“This week a report out of the Journal for the American Medical Association reflected that there was a 41 percent increase in finding potentially cancerous tumors. It also said the 3-D mammogram reduces the rate of women who have to return for another screening,” said Dr. Brandi Nicholson, UVA associate professor.

Conventional mammograms take two images of the breast - one from the side and one from the top, but the 3-D version makes many images of the breast from different angles and puts them together to show a fully dimensional image.

“During that time the X-ray tube goes at an arch and moves but does not affect the patient and takes 15 images that then we can process on a computer and view and scroll through,” said Nicholson.

Andrews had a double mastectomy in June. Doctors caught the tumors before they spread into her lymph nodes.

“If I am going to have cancer, which I don't want to have, but if I had to have it I would rather know about it and take care of it than not know about it,” said Andrews.

UVA is the only medical facility in central Virginia that offers 3-D mammographies. Administrators say you do not need a doctor's order for a 3-D screening.

Martha Jefferson Hospital does not have the technology for 3-D mammographies but says it plans to start offering them this September.

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