3-D Screening for Breast Cancer

In Breast Cancer by Barbara Jacoby

For the last few years, we have been hearing more and more about the use of the new 3-D tomosynthesis screening for those with dense breast tissue rather than the traditional 2-D mammography that has been traditionally used. For me, this is something that I have shared but did not give much attention since it has arrived a bit late for me having had a double mastectomy. However, it recently came to the forefront for me when my sister was diagnosed with breast cancer after having had the 3-D screening as she does have dense breast tissue. As a result, I had to do more research about this technology and its benefits.

After all, if the technology is already in place to help with early detection in yet one more way, why wouldn’t we want to share the information in order to help others?Barbara Jacoby

I found a site that provided me with some really great basic information. But, I also wanted to follow up with my sister regarding her particular situation for more information on so many levels. In her case, the cancer was well within the breast tissue and there was no discernible lump that could be found. Therefore, it did provide for finding the cancer in an early stage. I do know also that my sister has been absolutely faithful in getting a yearly mammogram, especially since my diagnosis many years ago and nothing was discovered from the previous screening. In fact, she carefully has scheduled her screening so that it follows her annual physical on a schedule that is six months opposite the screening so that she is receiving a medical check every six months. I personally never even thought of this but I think it is a great idea.

I can’t say with any certainty that the 3-D screening was the difference in the finding of her cancer at this early stage since she did not have a regular mammogram in order to do a comparison. However, if I were asked my opinion, I would definitely recommend that anyone with dense breasts request and obtain the 3-D screening. The vast majority of women that I know who have had breast cancer found their cancer as I did when a lump was felt. Therefore, I would tend to believe that based upon regular screening and the fact that no lump was felt, that in the case of my sister, the 3-D screening might well have been the difference in having her cancer found and removed before any of it was found in her lymph nodes.

While she has had a lumpectomy and a follow up 3-D scan that found another small cancer that was removed just days ago, her easy surgeries and prognosis provide us with a most optimistic outlook. She will undergo radiation treatment in 4-6 weeks after she has healed. And while only time will tell whether she will remain cancer free, I can’t help but be so encouraged that this early detection using the new screening technology has been the difference in her cancer treatment and that which so many other women have had to experience because the cancer was not found so early.

Of course I am not suggesting that early detection is the answer to ending advanced breast cancer since the current technology is only applicable to cancer tumors in the breast. However, I am suggesting that if you are a woman with dense breast tissue that you may well benefit by having your screening done with the new 3-D technology rather than the traditional 2-D mammogram. As always, talk to your doctor about your screening. If you have dense breast tissue, you should be able to successfully request that your screening be done with the new technology. If you are willing to advocate for yourself and share this type of information with the women in your life, you may just find that you have been able to help another woman in detecting breast cancer before it forces treatment on a much greater level. After all, if the technology is already in place to help with early detection in yet one more way, why wouldn’t we want to share the information in order to help others?