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Advances in MammographyAdvances in Mammography

Dr. Jill Steinkeler, Director of Breast Imaging at Lowell General Hospital, discusses the latest advances in digital mammography, including 3D mammography (tomosynthesis) and the importance of early detection. (Health Styles episode 119)

Tomosynthesis

What is Tomosynthesis?

The American Cancer Society recommends that women receive an annual mammogram beginning at 40 years of age. Lowell General Hospital offers a variety of breast imaging screening and diagnostic options including digital mammography, breast biopsy, breast ultrasound, breast magnetic resonance imaging (Breast MRI) and breast tomosynthesis.

We asked Lowell General radiologist Jill Steinkeler, MD, Director of Breast Imaging, who is fellowship trained in women's breast imaging, about the growing use of breast tomosynthesis, a powerful weapon in the fight against breast cancer.

What is breast tomosynthesis?

Tomosynthesis is a new type of technology that converts digital breast images into a stack of very thin layers or slices — building what is essentially a three-dimensional (3D) mammogram. This allows us to examine breast tissue one layer at a time and helps us see a level of detail never before possible. We can now see fine variations more clearly, and the finest details are no longer hidden by the breast tissue above and below.

Read or download our fact sheet for more information on 3D Mammography.

Who are the best candidates for breast tomosynthesis?

While breast tomosynthesis can be used for any patient, it is especially helpful for younger women or women with very dense breasts. A breast tomosynthesis exam may be used as a screening or diagnostic tool in conjunction with a traditional digital mammogram.

What should women expect when having a breast tomosynthesis test?

A breast tomosynthesis exam is very similar to a traditional mammogram, and takes approximately the same amount of time. A technologist positions you in the same way, and your breast is compressed under a paddle while images are taken at different angles. This may be uncomfortable, but it is not painful. An X-ray arm of the mammography machine also makes a quick arc over the breast, taking a series of images at several angles. A radiologist then examines the digital images for abnormalities.

Where is breast tomosynthesis offered?

Lowell General Hospital offers breast tomosynthesis at the Lowell General Hospital Saints Campus located at One Hospital Drive in Lowell and at our Lowell General North Andover site located at 203 Turnpike Street in North Andover.

To schedule your annual mammogram, call 978-937-6023. Click Breast Health to learn more about breast imaging services at Lowell General Hospital.

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