Fighting breast cancer with 3D

PHOTO: Fighting breast cancer with 3D

KUALA LUMPUR - The latest 3D digital breast imaging technology promises improved breast cancer detection in women and reduces false positives.

Launched by Sultan Azlan Shah of Perak yesterday at the National Cancer Society of Malaysia's (NCSM) office here, the new 3D mammography machine is the first in the nation.

NCSM president Dr Saunthari Somasundaram said the mammogram was a digital tomosynthesis that used X-rays to create a 3D picture of the breast.

Tomosynthesis is the process of building up a three dimensional image of an object from flat two dimensional images taken from various angles.

The picture shows the inner part of the breast without any distortion from other tissues as seen in conventional mammography.

She said the conventional mammogram only gave 2D imaging while tomosynthesis allowed both 2D and 3D at the same time.

"It allows us to detect and diagnose breast cancer in its early stages where the chances of cure are much higher."

NCSM consultant radiologist Dr Sulaiman Tamanang said false positives accounted for almost 25 per cent of cases when women were recalled for additional imaging but tomosynthesis prevented virtually all of these unnecessary callbacks, along with the anxiety they created.

He said a dense breast was more difficult to interpret on a traditional mammogram as the X-rays do not penetrate dense tissues as well as they do in fat.

He added that dense tissues appeared as a solid white area while fat appeared as a dark area.

"Tumours are also dense tissues and appear as solid white areas on a mammogram and this makes it more difficult to detect a tumour. But tomosynthesis gives a clearer picture in such situations."