Breast Cancer and Benefits of 3D Mammography

Breast cancers are the most common cancers diagnosed in women globally.  Interestingly, the United States has one of the highest incidence rates of breast cancers.  As of January 2018, more than 3.1 million women in the U.S. have a history of breast cancer.  This includes women currently being treated and women who have completed treatment.  About 85% of breast cancers occur in women with no previous family history.  Upwards of 10% of breast cancers may be linked to heredity.

Breast cancers have been classified into several types based on location and or symptoms.  Ductal carcinoma in situ or DCIS (a non-invasive type) begins as abnormal cells in the lining of the milk ducts without growing into surrounding breast tissue.  Invasive ductal carcinoma or IDC (an invasive type) begins in the lining of the milk ducts and grows into surrounding breast tissue.  Invasive lobular carcinoma or ILC (an invasive type) begins as abnormal cells lining the milk glands or lobules.  ILC eventually grows through the walls of the lobules and can spread to lymph nodes or other areas of the body becoming metastatic.  Inflammatory breast cancer or IBC (an invasive type) is a rare breast cancer with no single lump or tumor.  IBC can cause various breast skin symptoms including redness, warmth, thickening or pitting of the skin.  There are still other breast cancers that are less common including Medullary carcinoma, Tubular carcinoma, Mucinous carcinoma and Paget disease.  Further complicating the classification process, breast cancer cells can be Estrogen (ER) negative or positive, Progesterone (PR) negative or positive, and Her-2/neu gene negative or positive.  Identifying the specific type of Breast Cancer is critical in determining the most appropriate treatment regimen.


Because the causes of most Breast Cancers are unrelated to heredity, early detection and effective treatment options are critical for improving quality of life and reducing mortality.  It is estimated that breast cancer deaths could be decreased by one-third through early diagnosis and treatment.  Recent improvements in imaging technology have brought about the development of of 3D mammography or tomosynthesis.  Tomosynthesis incorporates digital x-ray in an arcing pattern to capture images at multiple angles.  This process minimizes tissue overlap and image distortion to generate thinly sliced images (approximately 1 mm thick) that provide a three dimensional picture.  This imaging can effectively detect breast tumors and masses with higher accuracy and less radiation exposure than other means.  Several companies have developed and or commercialized tomosynthesis breast imaging equipment, for example Hologic, General Electric and Siemens.

*Information in paragraph one obtained from www.breastcancer.org

Understanding Breast Cancer>U.S. Breast Cancer Statistics.

**Information in paragraph 2 obtained from www.nationalbreastcancer.org 

***Information in paragraph 3 obtained from www.tomosynthesis.org

https://ww5.komen.org/BreastCancer/Mammography.html#tomosynthesis

https://ww5.komen.org/BreastCancer/3d_mammography_breast_tomosynthesis.html

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