3-D Technology making strides in breast cancer early detection
University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics doctor Carol Scott-Conner specializes in treating breast cancer.
She never thought she'd find herself in a position similar to that of her patients.
"I don't have any risk factors," she said. "I don't have a family history."
Scott-Conner's breast cancer diagnosis came this past year using the 3-D imaging tool called tomosynthesis during a routine exam.
"It was about the size of the tip of this finger," Scott-Conner said of her cancer. "As many breasts as I have examined in my lifetime, I couldn't feel it."
The 3-D mammogram takes images in layers, allowing doctors to view tissue in ways they couldn't before.
"This technology is taking the data that we're getting now on a mammogram and it's slicing it up into thin little slices," said Tammy Coryell, a mammography specialist with Hologic, whose company was in Coralville Tuesday to display the technology.
While patients won't notice much of a difference during the screening, the technology is making all the difference in early detection and better patient outcomes.
"If we can find it at an early stage, before it's in the patients' lymph nodes or spread to the rest of the body, the therapy is much less expensive, and it's a lot less extensive," said Dr. Laurie Fajardo, University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics Professor of Radiology.
Fajardo says in the 18 months the University of Iowa has used the technology, the hospital has seen a 40 percent improvement in cancer detection rates, and a 40 percent reduction in the rate of call backs for rescreening.
"We're doing a better job at screening our populations, with really a lower cost to the healthcare system," Fajardo said.
Scott-Conner has gone through treatment and is doing well, now showing no evidence of cancer.
She credits tomosynthesis and early detection for her recovery.
"I think it could have been a totally different thing. I might have needed chemo, my chance of cure may have been a lot smaller," she said.
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