Breaking down the new mammography standards

Earlier this week, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) proposed changes to mammography standards.

These are the first changes to the regulation of mammography screenings in more than 20 years and will improve quality and modernize breast cancer screening. The key changes include providing patients with information about breast density, in the form of a letter, with screening results.

Our team at Prisma Health–Upstate applauds this move, and we’re proud to say that we began offering the advanced 3D mammogram technology in 2016 and, by this summer, all Prisma Health–Upstate mammography locations will be offering it. We also have been notifying women of their breast density since May 2016, as required by South Carolina state law.

Screening mammography is crucial in the early detection of breast cancer. One in eight women will develop breast cancer in their lifetime, and most of those women will have no family history of it. Detected early enough, the five-year survival rate is excellent.

Prisma Health invested in the advanced technology because we saw the need. The 3D mammography, also known as tomosynthesis, not only helps to reduce the number of call backs, but also increases the overall cancer detection rate. In fact, researchers of the largest study to date found 41 percent more invasive cancers with tomosynthesis with digital mammography than with digital mammography alone.

Tomosynthesis produces a series of images, or slices, of the breast tissue which allows for 3D reconstruction. It creates 1mm thick slices for the radiologist to review. Since conventional imaging only produces a 2D image, it can create overlapping tissue on a mammogram. The radiologist reading that mammogram cannot always tell if the tissue he or she is looking at is simply overlapping normal tissue or if the density they see is a cancer. Having multiple slices of a breast image helps the radiologist determine whether there is a mass that needs additional imaging or if it is simply normal tissue that is superimposed. 

No matter which Prisma Health–Upstate location you go to, the same doctors interpret all 3D mammograms, ensuring that you receive the same high quality of care. Our Upstate locations include the following:

3D mammography is a major advancement for women, and one that can help save lives because it allows patients and care providers to make more informed decisions.

For more information about 3D mammography or breast health services offered by Prisma Health, click here. To make an imaging appointment, call 864-522-XRAY (9729) or 1-866-465-9729 (toll free). Note that you do not need a referral to schedule a mammogram.

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