Takeaways from Dr. Cohen’s “Advancements in Breast Imaging” Live Chat

Thank you to everyone who joined us for last week’s live web chat on “Advancements in Imaging for Early Breast Cancer Detection.” Dr. Michael Cohen, director, Division of Breast Imaging for Emory’s Department of Radiology, discussed the latest in breast imaging screening and technology.

Questions varied from ,“What are the current breast screening guidelines?” to “What is tomosynthesis and when is it the right choice for screening?” Below are just a few of the questions and answers from the chat. Make sure to view the chat transcript for the whole discussion.

Question: What are the current breast cancer screening guidelines?

Michael Cohen, MDAnswer:
Women aged 40 and younger should have a clinical breast exam at least every 3 years. All women aged 40 and over should get a yearly screening mammogram, clinical breast exam and perform a monthly breast self-examination.

 

Question:
When is breast tomosynthesis the right choice for screening? And how does tomosynthesis compare to an MRI in diagnosing cancer?

Michael Cohen, MDAnswer:
Digital Tomosynthesis (3D mammography) is an improvement on traditional 2D mammography. Rather than the traditional single view of a breast in 2D mammography, 3D mammography obtains a series of very thin 1 mm sections of the breast. This allows us to look at the breast as if we were viewing pages of a book and gives a much more accurate look inside. If tomosynthesis is available at your breast imaging facility, it is an excellent way to screen.

Studies have shown that 3D mammography permits detections of more cancers, while at the same time reducing the number of unnecessary call-backs to evaluate lesions that are not cancer. This is a win-win for the patient. MRI screening is reserved for a limited number of patients at high risk.

Question:
What about the radiation exposure for these types of test [tomosynthesis]; is it different from traditional mammograms?

Michael Cohen, MDAnswer:
With current technology, a patient receives both a 2D and a 3D mammogram at the same time. The addition of 3D about doubles the radiation exposure compared to 2D alone, but is still within FDA guidelines for mammography.

Also, some very exciting technology is on the horizon that will permit us to create a 2D mammogram from a 3D mammogram using sophisticated computers. When that becomes available, we will only need to do a 3D mammogram, thereby reducing the radiation exposure to the original level.

If you missed this informative chat with Dr. Cohen, be sure to check out the full list of questions and answers on the web transcript.

If you have any questions for Dr. Cohen, don’t hesitate to leave a comment in our comments area below!

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