Is 3D Mammography the Next Revolutionary Medical Device?
In 2013 approximately 232,000 women were diagnosed with breast cancer and over 39,000 deaths were a result of breast cancer. Breast cancer treatment and prevention continues to be a hot topic and a priority in the medical industry. Cancer detection is also very important as the earlier we can detect the cancer and treat it the more likely the patient is to fully recover. A new revolutionary piece of equipment that is used to detect breast cancer is tomosynthesis (aka 3-D mammogrpahy) and allows the machine to move in an arc aound the breast and takes multiple X-rays as it curves around the breast. These X-rays are then computed together into a 3D image. Studies have revealed that tomosynthesis is much more effective in detecting cancer compared to a typical 2-D mammography. The cost effectiveness and the proficiency of tomosynthesis compared to other accurate imaging modalities such as an ultrasound and MRI have the advocates for this machinery to hope that one day this will become the number one instrument used in screening programs and will continue to increase cancer detection rates in women earlier.
However this newly upgraded mammography has many critics and skeptics. According to recent studies, the benefits of mammography are greatly overstated and its potential harm is greatly understated. In 2009 the US preventive Services Task Force updated their guidelines to recommend that women ages 40 to 49 to consult with the doctor about the benefits and risks involved with the test before deciding to be screened. This is different than the previous guidelines that recommended women over 40 to be screened routinely every year or two. Mammograms expose your body to radiation and it is belived that tomosynthesis releases twice as much radiation than a standard mammography. Another study that compared 3D mammography to traditon 2D mammography resulted in a 40 percent increase in detection or identificiation of invasive cancers, and a 15 percent decrease in false positives when 3D was added. Does the possibility of early detection outweigh the risks of radiaton and false positives that can create a misdiagnosis and overtreatments?
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