Penn Highlands Clearfield Offers the Most Advanced Tool for Detecting Breast Cancer

No one wants to see breast cancer show up on a routine mammogram, but experts agree that it is better to see abnormalities in their early stages when the chance for survival is much better. Penn Highlands Clearfield now offers 3D mammograms that are one of the most effective tools in detecting invasive cancer at its early stages.

The 3D mammogram, which is also known as digital breast tomosynthesis, captures a series of consecutive images from different angles across the arc of the breast to produce three-dimensional slice images. The slices enable radiologists to examine breast tissue one layer at a time instead of viewing all of the layers together as a flat image. An abnormality that is hidden behind tissue in one image may be visible in another image at a slightly different angle.

"The 3D mammogram is an effective screening tool for all women and for those with dense breast tissue," said Suzanne Iorfido, DO, a Breast Radiologist who specializes in breast imaging and intervention with Penn Highlands Healthcare. "Studies show that 3D mammograms improve the ability to detect breast cancer. The images show the inner structure of the breast one slice at a time without the overlapping tissues which can hide small, and at times, large masses."

There are other benefits of 3D tomosynthesis. Radiologists can target the size, shape and precise location of a suspicious image. In addition, women experience fewer callbacks for additional images which in turn reduces anxiety. Since the tissue layers are shown independently, suspicious lesions that may cause concern on traditional 2D mammograms can be ruled out as benign or non-cancerous. Additional benefits include fewer unnecessary biopsies and additional tests, and a greater likelihood of detecting multiple breast tumors.

Women who have had traditional 2D mammograms will find the experience very similar with tomosynthesis because the same positions and compressions are needed. However, with 3D, while the breast is compressed in the unit, the machine's special x-ray arm moves over the breast in a sweeping motion to capture the 3D images. "Overall, 3D mammograms offer more — more detail for the radiologist and more peace of mind among women," added Dr. Iorfido.

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