Life-saving tool

Susquehanna Health now has enhanced technology for detecting breast cancer.

Breast Tomosynthesis offers 3D mammography to finding tumors in women with dense breast tissue.

“It provides multiple snapshots of the breast,” said Sue Keeler, manager of the health system’s Kathryn Candor Lundy Health Breast Center.

About one third of the population has dense breast composition.

Dr. Hanae Bahr, a Susquehanna Health radiologist, noted that the camera of the 3D mammogramm can capture more angles and images as the breast is being scanned than traditional 2D imaging.

“Dense tissue is our bane, and everyone is trying to see through it,” she said.

Presently, 2D mammography remains an excellent diagnostic tool for screening women with low breast density.

Advantages of 3D mammography include fewer recalls to look at suspicious areas, fewer false positives and overall less invasive testing.

Dr. Susan Branton, medical director of the Kathryn Candor Lundy Health Breast Center, said it also will further reduce the need for biopsies.

Overall, the new technology would seem to further help the health system in its fight against breast cancer.

“It will hopefully better image people with dense breasts,” Branton said.

So far, the new technology has been used as a diagnostic measure for more than 1,000 women at the health system.

Bahr noted that how 3D mammography can better help find cancers.

She pulled up an image of a breast noting that its tissue often carries the same white hue as cancer.

While 3D mammography is the most recent technology for uncovering tumors in dense breast tissue, better diagnostic measures are likely to come along.

“I have a feeling there are other modalities on the way,” Bahr said.

Breast Tomosynthesis was FDA approved in 2011.

Keeler noted that by law women must be notified by their health care providers if mammograms reveal that they have dense breast tissue.

Women with dense breasts are at a higher risk for developing cancer.

Early detection remains a key in the successful treatment of breast cancer, according to the American Cancer Society.

The five-year survival rate for breast cancer detected at the earliest stages is 100 percent.

All women are encouraged to have yearly mammogram beginning at age 40 and to regularly conduct self-breast examinations.