3D mammography, or tomosynthesis, is a more effective modality for breast cancer screening than standard (2D) mammography for women under 50.
Tomosynthesis Impact on Screening Patients 40 to 49
Authors: Rose, S. et. al.
Source: abstract, presented at the Radiological Society of North American 2016 Scientific Assembly and Annual Meeting, November 2016
Recent recommendations support starting annual screening mammograms at age 45 or 50. One reason is that standard mammography has a significant false negative rate (the rate of missing cancers) in younger women. Younger women tend to have denser breast tissue, which can interfere with cancer detection.
This study looked at over 65,000 screening mammograms over a 1-year period for women ages 40-49. Approximately 45,000 of the mammograms were standard, and approximately 20,000 were 3D. Compared to standard mammography, the 3D mammograms had fewer recall rates (rates for bringing women back for more imaging) and higher cancer detection rates. These differences reached statistical significance.
This study supports the idea that 3D mammography is appropriate and more effective among women with dense breasts — particularly, women under 50. This information may inform patients and their providers about when to begin screening mammography and about which modality is most appropriate for them.