3D screening detects more breast cancers

After screening 15,000 women over a period of five years, a major clinical study in Sweden has shown that 3D mammography, or breast tomosynthesis, detects over 30% more cancers compared to traditional mammography – with a majority of the detected tumours proving to be invasive. The extensive screening study was conducted by Lund University and Skåne University Hospital in Sweden.

In traditional mammography screening, all breast tissue is captured in a single image. Breast tomosynthesis, on the other hand, is three-dimensional and works according to the same principle as what is known as tomography. This means that several low-dose x-ray images are taken of the breast from different angles. These are reconstructed by a computer to show thin layers of the breast. With more and improved image information and fewer overlapping tissue structures, the chances of detecting tumours increase. Further, the radiation dose may be lowered under certain circumstances.

About the study

Close to 15,000 women participated in the screening study conducted at Skåne University Hospital in Malmö in 2010–2015. The study’s midway results were published three years ago. The new results published in the reputable journal, Lancet Oncology, confirm that breast tomosynthesis is superior to today’s mammography screening in the detection of cancer tumours.

Breast tomosynthesis is already used at Skåne University Hospital, among other places, to investigate suspected breast cancer. Ahead of a possible large-scale introduction in the general breast cancer screening programme, the research team is now conducting a cost-benefit study.

3D mammography detected 34% more breast cancers in screening at Lunds University website