Cancer detection rate in dense breast tissue dramatically improved with tomosynthesis

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TORONTO, CANADA—Digital breast tomosynthesis increases the rate of cancer detection in women with dense breast tissue by as much as 67%, according to research presented at the American Roentgen Ray Society (AARS) 2015 Annual Meeting.

This retrospective review of all screening studies sought to determine the effect of breast density and lesion type on cancer detection for women who receive routine digital mammography (n = 11,221) and for those who undergo digital breast tomosynthesis (n = 18,156).

"There are a lot of data showing that screening with digital breast tomosynthesis increases cancer detection, but much less is known about the effect of density and lesion type on detection rates," said coauthor Caroline Ling, MD, of the Einstein Medical Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. "We found a striking increase in detection among women with dense breasts called back for mass and asymmetry relative to nondense breasts."

Cancer was found to be 67% more likely to be diagnosed in patients with dense breasts if they were screened with digital breast tomosynthesis versus with digital mammography. Among the patients with dense breasts, the cancer detection rate was 4.0% for those screened with digital breast tomosynthesis and 2.4% for those screened with digital mammography.

For patients with nondense breasts, a cancer diagnosis was 20% more likely with digital breast tomosynthesis versus digital mammography. Cancer was detected at a rate of 3.1% in patients with nondense breasts screens screened with digital breast tomosynthesis versus 2.5% with digital mammography.

Also, digital breast tomosynthesis led to higher callback rates for mass and asymmetry in patients with dense breasts. Callback rates were similar for patients with nondense breasts with either screening technique.

The researchers concluded that digital breast tomography had higher overall cancer detection than mammography, with the most striking difference occurring among women with dense breasts called back for mass and asymmetry.

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