What is Breast Tomosynthesis – and is it Better Than Mammography?
The new technology that changes the way we screen for breast cancer.
Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women in Australia (apart from non-melanoma skin cancer), and all women aged 40-49 and 75 and over are recommended to be regularly screened.
Mammography is the standard technology used for breast cancer screening, however, there is now a new technology called digital (or 3D) breast tomosynthesis (DBT) that can help improve the radiologist’s ability to diagnose breast cancer.
Mammograms are an effective, proven form of breast cancer screening, but have their limits – which is why this new technology is very exciting for us as practitioners, and for the health of our patients.
What is Breast Tomosynthesis and what are the benefits?
Depending on the density of a woman’s breast tissue, it can be difficult to tell the difference between normal breast tissue and breast cancer and spot abnormalities on a standard mammogram. As a large percentage of women do have dense breasts, the density can often “hide” a breast cancer during a screening.
DBT uses a series of two-dimensional images to build a three-dimensional image of the breast, which is especially advantageous in examining dense breasts – and uses low-dose x rays for your protection.
This method also uses less pressure during imaging than a conventional mammogram, making it much more comfortable for the patient.
This technology reduces the rate of ‘false positive’ readings that incorrectly identify normal tissue as an abnormality, and enables the doctor to more accurately locate where the real abnormality is in the breast.
The improved accuracy will ideally mean that abnormalities are located on the first scan, meaning fewer women need to come back for another mammogram and reducing the need for a biopsy.
Are 3D Breast Tomosynthesis scans covered by Medicare?
The Australian Government has introduced two new time-limited Medicare Benefits Schedule items for 3DBT and has removed rebates for plain film tomography.
As DBT is a relatively new digital mammography technology, there were no MBS items which provided rebates to patients who access DBT services.
As a patient, you will continue to be able to access Medicare rebates for 3DBT and mammography services for the interim period, while an application is under consideration by MSAC.
Xplore Radiology are dedicated to staying up to date with the latest improvements and efficiencies in technology for the health and benefit of our patients.
Protect your health by committing to regular screenings for early detection and peace of mind.
If you are a woman over 40 and haven’t had a recent screening, talk to a GP. If you have a referral book online today.