New Testing for Dense Breasts? It’s Actually Pretty Scary
In 2013 the FDA approved 3D tomosynthesis mammography, also known as 3D Mammograms. This new technology boasts “fewer false positives” and “a better test for dense breasts.” A study published in the JNCI states that there was a 40% increase in the identification of cancer, and it also showed a 15% decrease in false-positives (source). While all of that sounds like great news, there is a side to it that professionals are not telling you.
The New Protocol & Overexposure
It is recommended that women still require a 2D or traditional mammogram first, in addition to the new 3D Mammogram which uses compression, as well as TWICE the radiation of a 2D mammogram (source 1). Radiation is a known carcinogen, so overexposure is not a good idea. Mammography is still the standard of care when considering breast testing, but the increased exposure to radiation is something women should be aware of if offered a 3D mammogram.
Weighing the Risks
Eighty percent of women have dense breasts between the ages of 30 and 50. 2D mammography is limited in findings with dense breasts because tumors can hide in dense breast tissue since they can both appear white (source). So, that means a significant number of women who are not going to have breast cancer in their lifetime would be exposing themselves to 2 times the radiation in their 30’s and 40’s, the dense breast years, when traditional mammography is less effective. The good news is that 3D mammograms are not the ONLY screening tool for women with dense breasts.
Another Way to Test for Breast Cancer, Breast Thermography
There is a breast screening available to women that involves NO compression, NO radiation, absolutely nothing touching them at all. This test is called Digital Infrared Thermal Imaging (DITI), also known as Thermography. Breast thermography is a test of breast function and physiology. It can detect increased blood vessel formation and metabolic changes associated with a tumor’s genesis and growth. It can detect breast cancer in its earliest stages, when women have a 90% cure rate. Women can also monitor the health of their breasts over time and when/if areas of concern unveil themselves, they can make health changes and possibly prevent cancer. The screening is especially beneficial to women with dense breasts because it detects thermal changes at the cellular level. The density of breasts does not matter. Breast thermography should be the first line of defense in the prevention and early detection of breast cancer especially in young women with risk factors for breast cancer at the time when mammogram is a very limited test.