October 30, 2014 — A combination of a conventional digital mammogram and 3D screening might result in long-term cost savings for women with dense breasts, according to a recent study published in Radiology, Time reports.
According to Time, the volume of cells in the breast tissue of women with dense breasts places them at a moderate to high risk of developing breast cancer.
The 3-D screening, called tomosynthesis, is a relatively new technology that may help health care providers better detect early cancers, but it remains unclear whether such screenings are worth their higher cost, according to Time. A separate study earlier this year found that tomosynthesis aids detection of breast cancers while reducing false positives.
For the new study, researchers created a model for patients with dense breasts to gauge the cost-effectiveness of a digital mammography performed every other year and digital mammography with 3-D screening performed every other year.
The researchers also used data from the National Cancer Institute's Breast Cancer Surveillance Consortium to calculate breast cancer and death rates for both screening methods.
The researchers found that one additional death was avoided for every 2,000 women with dense tissue who were screened using digital mammography with 3-D screening, compared with digital mammography alone.
Lead researcher Christoph Lee of the University of Washington noted that the study predicted that using mammography with 3-D screening averted 810 false-positive results. "The savings represented by 810 fewer false positives are a huge savings in anxiety, diagnostic workup and resource utilization in the health care system," he said (Park, Time, 10/28).