Vasek and Anna Maria Polak Breast Diagnostic Center at Torrance Memorial is the first medical center in the South Bay to offer
Digital Breast Tomosynthesis (DBT), or
3D mammography technology, for detecting early stage breast cancers in women with radiographically
dense breast tissue. The technology is available to patients of its Torrance
and Manhattan Beach offices and will be offered at its Rolling Hills office
“While traditional digital mammography is still one of the most advanced
technologies available today, it offers only a two-dimensional picture
of the breast, said Patricia Sacks, MD, medical director of Torrance Memorial’s
Vasek and Anna Maria Polak Breast Diagnostic Center. “Digital Breast
Tomosynthesis allow radiologists to examine breast tissue one layer at
a time, making it possible to detect early stage tumors previously undetectable
with 2D mammography alone. This is critical for those with dense breast
tissue because their breast cancer risk is three times higher than those
with lower density tissue.”
DBT finds 41 percent more invasive, or lethal, cancers than a traditional
mammogram, according to a recent JAMA study. Dense breast tissue may lead
to false positives or false negative results during traditional mammography.
Since the breast is often composed of pockets of dense tissue surrounded
by fat, when X-rayed, the image may be obscured. The overlapping tissue
may result in difficulty viewing tiny spots, called microcalcifications,
and other subtle signs of early cancer.
Instead of viewing all the complexities of the breast tissue in a single
flat image, Digital Breast Tomosynthesis allows radiologists to examine
a series of high-resolution, one millimeter slices at a time. Fine details
are more visible, and no longer hidden by the surrounding tissue. It also
decreases the need for patients to be called back again for a “second
look,” because radiologists can see breast tissue more clearly.
A 3D mammography exam is very similar to a traditional mammogram. There
is no additional compression required, and it only takes a few seconds
longer for each view. Very low X-ray energy is used during the exam—just
about the same amount as a traditional mammogram.
Approximately 75 percent of women in their forties have dense breasts.
The percentage typically reduces with age, with 54 percent of women in
their 50s and 42 percent of women in their sixties having dense breasts.
A patient can learn if her breasts are dense by asking her physician or
the radiologist who performs her routine mammogram. There is no additional
cost to the patient for a 3D mammogram vs. a traditional mammogram.
Routine screening for breast cancer with digital mammograms are essential
to a woman's continued health. A digital mammogram takes just a few
minutes, but can uncover disease in the earliest stages while it is most
treatable. Early diagnosis can allow for less invasive treatment, limit
the spread into other parts of the body and possibly save a life. If detected
in the earliest stages, the five-year survival rate for breast cancer
is 98 percent.