Breast cancer detection may become easier and more effective with the development of new 3-D imaging technology, according to the New York Times. The new technique, called tomosynthesis or 3-D mammography, has the potential to benefit large hospitals and small, local mammography centers alike. Millions of women are projected to get the new test this year.

The process is almost the exact same as traditional mammogram, only instead of taking a stationary X-ray, tomosynthesis moves around the breast, taking multiple X-rays at different angles and yielding a three-dimensional image of the breast.

Results promising, but not definitive
The technology has only been around since 2011, so there has not been sufficient time to analyze long-term results. That said, thus far the procedure has proven more effective than the typical mammogram. In a study from the Journal of the American Medical Association, the rate of cancer detection improved when tomosynthesis was added to mammogram.

"We found an increase in invasive cancers, the ones we worry about, that could be lethal," Dr. Sarah M. Friedewald told the New York Times. She continued, "We're picking up the ones we want to be picking up. Overall, it's very encouraging. We're also reducing the number of people who have to come back."

However, Dr. Etta D. Pisano, mammography expert and dean of the College of Medicine at the Medical University of South Carolina, guarded against leaping to conclusions regarding new technology. Though she thinks tomosynthesis is promising, she believes more research is necessary before she would recommend it to all women.

Hologic product receives highest rating
KLAS Research gave Hologic's 3-D mammography system its highest rating out of over 100 medical technologies analyzed, according to PR News Wire. It is the third consecutive year the device earned the distinction. Hologic, a Massachusetts-based diagnostics technology provider, outperformed its competition in sales, implementation, functionality and service.

So far, Hologic's platform was the first to gain approval from the Food and Drug Administration, in February 2011. Over 1,100 of their 3-D mammography devices are installed nationwide, available in all 50 states and in more than 50 countries. General Electric recently gained FDA approval for its own tomosynthesis product.

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