RSNA: Tomosynthesis reduces recall rates, increases breast cancer detection rates

CHICAGO—Digital breast tomosynthesis (DBT) has been shown to reduce recall rates and increase the detection rates of breast cancer, according to research presented Dec. 3 at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA).

While digital mammography is the most commonly used modality for breast cancer screening, it often produces false-positive results, leading to a higher recall rate that requires women to undergo additional imaging or biopsy for findings that are actually not cancerous.

However, DBT directly addresses criticism about mammography, according to lead author Emily F. Conant, MD, of the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia (HUP). Combining both two-dimensional and three-dimensional screening, DBT produces a combined, comprehensive image.

Conant and colleagues used DBT technology on all patients screened for breast cancer at HUP beginning in October 2011. The researchers compared the imaging results from 15,633 women who underwent DBT to 10,753 patients who underwent digital mammography screening the previous year.

The study’s results revealed that the average recall rate using DBT decreased by 15.6 percent. This reduction occurred across all breast densities. Cancer detection rates using the technology increased by 22.7 percent.

“DBT is evolving and is a very exciting platform,” said Conant. Though it may not be a solution for all problems associated with breast cancer screening, it’s an accessible technology that is beginning to yield promising results, according to the researcher.

The radiation dosage of DBT is twice that of mammography, but is still within the acceptable range, according to the researchers. However, the technology is still new and advancing, and current solutions for exposure are in development.

“We look forward to multi-center trials to show the reproducibility of these findings across patient populations and centers,” said Conant. “And of course, very important to this is doing patient follow-ups to find any interval cancers so that we can determine the true sensitivity and specificity of this new technology.”