Posted: June 6, 2014

The Journal of the American Medical Association has published a landmark study that has the potential to change the practice of breast cancer detection.  Click here for the link; the article is free at least for a while.  After that Dr. Stark can email it to you.  In it 3D mammography is shown to be superior in both sensitivity and specificity to conventional digital mammography, that technique that has been the standard of care for the last ten years.  This is a very important development.  What the study does not state is how steep a learning curve there is for the radiologist interpreting the film.  It alludes to start-up issues and the need to for the doctor to read a large number of these but does not go into specifics.  Stay tuned as this rapidly evolving field matures.

Update 2020: mature data on the value of 3D mammography are now available.  A good review can be found here.  Dr. Stark can provide the entire article.  In a study of over 19,000 women, 90% more breast cancers were found with 3D mammography.  The difference was seen entirely in cancers smaller than 2 cm — when breast cancer is most curable.  The recall rate — women called back for more x-rays — was similar in each group.   Dr. Stark weighs in: The question has been asked and answered.  There is no reason not to do 3D mammography for the average-risk woman.