Advances in modern medicinehave given us powerful new tools in the fight against cancer. When caught early, the prognosis for breast cancer is one of the most optimistic. Certain stages of breast cancer will require breast reconstruction after a mastectomy, but early detection can prevent the need for these procedures. Because timely detection can make such a profound difference in treatment and recovery, regular testing is a must.
A New Approach
In choosing testing technologies, one of the issues that arises is a trade-off between quality and safety. CT scans provide high resolution 3D images that provide the most detail for detecting cancer early on. Unfortunately, CT scans deliver high levels of radiation, which may be unhealthy for regular testing. Mammograms are safer in this regard but cannot compete with the resolution of CT scans. New developments in 3D mammograms may provide the best of both worlds.
Whereas traditional mammograms take two dimensional pictures of the breast tissue, 3D mammograms use a sweeping X-ray arm to capture the tissue from all angles and produce a three-dimensional image. This allows doctors to examine the tissue in its entirety and has yielded substantially higher detection rates of early stage cancers, with some reports producing 40 percent greater effectiveness. The X-ray arm has some radiation exposure, but the levels produced are less than 5 percent of those created by CT scans.
3D mammography is still in the early stages of widespread application. However, the technology is available and efficient. As 3D mammography continues to spread, changes in diagnosis will lead to changes in treatment. We could be looking at a future where mastectomies are a thing of the past, and early stage breast cancers can be treated with methods that will leave women’s breasts intact.