Marketing efforts push 3D mammography despite lack of evidence they are better for patients

Manufacturers, hospitals, physicians and patient advocates have put significant marketing resources—including millions of dollars—into selling 3D mammograms to women, despite little evidence the modality is better than traditional mammography.

An investigation spearheaded by Kaiser Health News revealed the multiple ways industry dollars have shaped policy and the public narrative surround 3D mammography. Equipment manufacturers such as GE Healthcare, Siemens, Hologic and Fujifilm are among those that have paid teaching hospitals to push the modality; they’ve spent millions marketing to consumers and lobbying lawmakers; and such companies have even funded experts and advocates who push for 3D mammograms.

“There’s a lot of money to be made,” Steven Woloshin, MD, director of the center for medicine and media at The Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice, told KHN.

The clinical impact of digital breast tomosynthesis (DBT), or 3D mammography, is hotly debated among the medical industry. Prior coverage from HealthImaging has found that use of the modality has skyrocketed over the past few years, increasing from 4.6% in 2015 to 41.8% in 2017 among certain patient populations.

As the story published in USA Today pointed out, there is little evidence DBT improves breast cancer detection. Industry groups such as the U.S. Preventative Services Task Force and American Cancer Society haven’t given the green light to DBT, while the American College of Radiology and American Society of Breast Surgeons support its use.

Read the entire USA Today story below.