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POTOMAC, Md (WUSA)-- Breast imagers at Washington Radiology Associates are the first in our area to use a new screening test called TOMOSYNTHESIS, 3D mammography. It's seen as the most significant advancement in breast imaging in nearly 4 decades.

Dr. Julianne Greenberg is Director of Mammography at the Potomac, MD office of Washington Radiology Associates. She says with tomosynthesis, "We can sort out what is really a true abnormality and what might be overlapping normal tissue..."

Dr. Greenberg explained, "Basically what it does is take images of the breast at very thin 1 millimeter slices and can reconstruct those images into a three dimensional picture or image of the breast."

A woman having a tomosynthesis 3D mammogram won't notice a thing. It happens at the same time as her regular 2D scan.

The main difference is what the images reveal. In 2D, it's a flat view of the breast from top to bottom and side to side. But moving in an arc along the breast, the enhanced 3D x-rays will show scores of very fine breast slices at slightly different angles. The reconstructed images look more like a hologram.

Dr. Greenberg pointed out the differences in one patient's images: "This is the patient's 2D mammogram. The area in question is awfully difficult to detect...Much easier to see the lesion in breasts in 3D tomosynthesis."

Dr. Greenberg said tomosynthesis is especially good at detecting very small invasive cancers that wouldn't be felt through a breast self exam or a clinical exam.

"If we can find small invasive tumors they can be cured. The patient can be taken care of an an early point, stage. Success for long term cure is great," stated Dr. Greenberg.

Tomosynthesis 3D Mammography is good for all women, but especially beneficial for women with dense breasts; that's about 60% of all women. Being able to clearly distinguish between a cancer and non-cancerous lesion will reduce the number of false positives and patient call backs.

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