Digital Mammography with Tomosynthesis Improves Breast Cancer Detection

Combination imaging found to reduce recall rate in patients with breast cancer.

Researchers found that digital mammography used in combination with a form of imaging is associated with an increase in cancer detection rates and a reduction in recall rates for breast cancer patients.

A study published in JAMA evaluated the screening performance of digital mammography in combination with tomosynthesis compared with digital mammography alone in women with different levels of breast density.

Data was taken from screening performance metrics, reported for 12 months using digital mammography alone and the start of tomosynthesis from 13 US institutions.

The data included 452,350 examinations, 278,906 of which were digital mammography alone and 173,414 were digital mammography plus tomosynthesis. There were 2157 cancers that were diagnosed.

The results of the study showed that there was an association between tomosynthesis plus digital mammography and an increase in cancer detections rates and decrease in recall rate for both dense and nondense breast tissue.

“These combined gains were largest for women with heterogeneously dense breasts, potentially addressing limitations in cancer detection seen with digital mammography alone in this group, but were not significant in women with extremely dense breasts,” the authors said.

Researchers noted that of women classified as having dense breast tissue, a majority of them have heterogeneously dense breasts. This suggests mandating caution when drawing conclusions on the performance of tomosynthesis for women with extremely dense breasts.