Viewing the Breast in a Whole New Way

Breast cancer screening software provides synthesized views

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Mammography technology has just gotten a whole lot better, with less discomfort, less radiation and more precise views of breast tissue.

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved imaging software that generates 3D views of the breast while delivering less compression and less radiation.

These improvements are part of a 3D mammography (breast tomosynthesis) system by imaging system manufacturer Hologic, Inc.

According to the company, the combination of Hologic’s 3D and new “C-View 2D” imaging software improves the views available from its current 2D imaging.

"Find out what kind of mammogram you'll have."

dailyRx News spoke with the inventor of this technology, Daniel B. Kopans, MD, professor of radiology at Harvard Medical School and senior radiologist of the Breast Imaging Division at Massachusetts General Hospital.

"This is a major FDA approval. When I led the group that developed my invention – Digital Breast Tomosynthesis (DBT) – at the Massachusetts General Hospital in the 1990s, we realized that it would increase the detection rate of small cancers and reduce the recall rate from screening. Both benefits have been demonstrated in multiple studies,” Dr. Kopans said.

"What the system does is to recreate standard 2D images by combining, or synthesizing the 2D images from the multiple planes created by DBT."

Dr. Kopans continued explaining the development of DBT. “We identified one possible problem. Some cancers signal their presence on a mammogram by making small calcium deposits that have been called ‘microcalcifications’ that form small groups called 'clusters.' X-ray imaging is the only way to reliably detect these clustered microcalcifications," he explained.

“Richard Moore, my Head of Research, realized years ago that if we put the planes that had been synthesized by DBT back together in what we called a ‘slab’ of multiple planes, we could help radiologists perceive the clusters. The possibility of not perceiving the clusters with DBT alone was the reason that Hologic obtained their FDA approval for DBT that required 2D mammograms with DBT," he said.  

Dr. Kopans added, “FDA approval of Hologic's C-view means that there will no longer be a need to expose women to additional radiation to obtain a ‘conventional’ 2D image since these can now be synthesized from the DBT images. This means that Hologic's dose will now return to the same level as has been used for conventional mammography and radiologists will have all the information they need from the DBT acquisitions."

Hologic’s 3D mammography has been in use since 2011 and is currently available in 48 states. The new C-View 2D software will begin shipping in June 2013.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
May 23, 2013
Last Updated:
August 22, 2013