Ottawa Hospital tests 3D mammograms for early detection of breast cancer
The better mammogram: 3D technology promises earlier detection, greater accuracy and fewer false alarms
Ottawa Hospital's Breast Health Centre is undertaking a two-year study to determine if new 3D mammography technology will improve the accuracy and speed of diagnosis, leading to earlier treatment and fewer false positives.
Dr. Jean Seely, director of breast imaging at the Ottawa Hospital, said the 3D technology allows for a more thorough examination of breast tissue.
"It is increasing the accuracy, where they're finding more cancers — up to 30 per cent more cancers," said Seely.
"And these are the cancers that count. They're the invasive cancers, the ones that we know can cause significant harm."
Improving early detection
The new digital process allows doctors to see a series of cross-sections of the breast assembled as a three-dimensional model, rather than a single two-dimensional snapshot.
The enhanced screening takes 30 seconds longer per patient when combined with a regular mammogram.
Breast cancer is the leading cause of death for women between the ages of 40 and 50.
At the Ottawa Hospital, there are approximately 1,000 new cases of breast cancer diagnosed every year.
Early detection greatly improves the chances of survival, Seely said.
She added the new technology, combined with regular 2D mammograms, could lead to earlier detection of abnormalities in the breast.
Reducing 'false positives'
Researchers from The Ottawa Hospital Breast Health Centre have teamed up with the the Ottawa Integrative Cancer Center (OICC) to be part of what's called the Tomosynthesis Mammographic Imaging Screening Trial.
The use of 3D mammograms will also result in fewer "false positives," errors that create undue anxiety in women who must be then be re-tested and await results, according to OICC director Dugald Seely.
"False positives really do create anxiety that is debilitating for women," said Seely. "So if we can reduce those false alarms, that is fantastic."
The Breast Health Centre is one of three Canadian clinical trial sites, along with Toronto and Vancouver that will test the 3D technology.
The Ottawa study aims to enroll 2,000 women, who will undergo random testing for two years, followed by two years of follow up by researchers.
You can watch the 3D mammogram procedure in this video provided by the Ottawa Hospital. (Video has no sound)