A promising new mammography technology that finds forty-one percent more aggressive cancers and can reduce patient recall rates by as much as forty percent has arrived at the BreastCare Center at Yavapai Regional Medical Center in Prescott Valley.

This new technology, known as breast tomosynthesis, creates a 3-dimensional image that helps radiologists see more of the breast tissue than they can with a standard 2-dimensional mammogram. This helps to reduce false positive results leading to fewer patients having to be brought back for additional testing – a long time goal of healthcare providers.

Patients who are asked to return for additional breast cancer testing often feel anxious about having more testing, which can negatively affect a person’s health and well-being. Since breast tomosynthesis is a more comprehensive and accurate tool, it reduces the need for call backs by as much as forty percent. This improves the quality of patient care, which is important to both patients and local healthcare providers.

In a typical 2-dimensional mammogram, the overlapping breast tissue makes it harder for the radiologist to see all parts of the breast. The 3-dimensional screening lessens this problem because the breast tissue is seen in sections and the finer details are more visible, which creates a more accurate reading. This helps the radiologist to confirm that the tissue is normal.

“Catching breast cancer at an early stage, before it has spread, has been proven to save lives,” states Prescott Radiologist, Brian Kimball, MD. “Also, tomosynthesis allows the radiologist to evaluate breast tissue in thin sections, similar to a CT scan looking at the liver or kidneys. This results in fewer patients needing to return for additional mammographic images after their screening mammogram. So the bottom line is that tomosynthesis detects more cancers and fewer women need to come back for more imaging.”

Although Medicare and Medicaid are making sure to cover this type of screening, many private insurance companies are not covering the cost yet. As this technology grows in acceptance, this may change. “Right now not all insurance companies cover tomosynthesis, adds Dr. Kimball. “I believe that once the examination is covered by more insurance companies, it will become the standard of care for detecting breast cancer.”

For now, those who are at higher risk for developing breast cancer, or who have denser breast tissue, are candidates most likely to have this type of screening. This is because dense breast tissue can look very similar to the density of breast cancer. This technology helps the radiologist see the tissue more accurately.

Kathleen Hoffer, a Mammography Technologist at the BreastCare Center at Yavapai Regional Medical Center in Prescott Valley, explains that out-of-pocket cost for this type of screening can be very reasonable. “For patients who are at high risk—who know they have dense breast tissue or a strong family history of breast cancer—it’s worth it”, states Hoffer. “Having the absolute best tool available leads to greater peace-of-mind.”

“In Yavapai County, we have one of the highest later-stage cancer detection rates in Arizona,” said Mary Sterling, Director of Imaging Services at Yavapai Regional Medical Center. “Bringing this advanced technology to western Yavapai County,” states Sterling “has added to the tools we have available to diagnose and treat breast cancer. Allowing our patients to receive the best care possible, close to home, is very important to us.”

To learn more about Breast Tomosynthesis, talk to your healthcare provider or call the BreastCare Center at YRMC at (928) 442-8900.