The Conclusive Evidence About 3D Mammography
When Solis Mammography was founded more than three decades ago, we embarked on a mission to set the standard for clinical and technological excellence in our field. Over the course of that journey, two technologies have become the cornerstone of our approach to furthering the cause of accuracy and a better patient experience: 3D mammography and SmartCurve™ comfort technology. When combined, these two cutting-edge technologies have been clinically shown to increase the early detection of breast cancer, while improving the patient experience.
“I see patients every day who are benefiting from greater accuracy in their screening diagnosis. 3D is the most significant breakthrough in detecting breast cancer in my lifetime.”
It took more than thirty years for digital mammography to displace film. In only a matter of years, 3D has become the new standard in mammography. To draw a comparison to 2D, this leading-edge technology gives the radiologist the equivalent of more than 60 images of breast tissue in “slices” in much the same manner as an MRI. In 2013, I was the lead author of a study published in AJR that evaluated recall, biopsy, cancer detection and positive predictive values of 2D before and after the implementation of 3D for routine screening mammography. We found that 3D, used in conjunction with 2D, dramatically outperformed screenings that relied on 2D alone. The use of 3D imaging resulted in a 54% increase in invasive breast cancer detection and a 37% reduction in callbacks.1
In 2016, our 3D research continued through our focus on the impact of tomosynthesis on screening patients between the ages of 40 and 49, an important age group, as cancer found in younger women tends to be more aggressive. We discovered significant improvements in invasive cancer detection and recall rates.2 Through four additional published research studies, my findings and observations confirmed the benefits of 3D mammography in the clinical environment. I see patients every day who are benefiting from greater accuracy in their screening diagnosis — even if they themselves do not recognize the difference in the technology. 3D mammography is undoubtedly the most significant breakthrough in detecting breast cancer in my lifetime.
The SmartCurve Impact on Patient Experience
Over the past 40 years, the field of mammography has made remarkable strides. Our ability to detect potential problems and early stage cancers has grown tremendously. In fact, one could make the argument that the greatest improvement in our ability to decrease mortality lies not in the technology itself, but in driving patient engagement, compliance and satisfaction to higher levels. To do this requires creating a better patient experience — and eliminating the obstacles to routine screenings. One of the most frequently voiced barriers to compliance is the fear of pain and discomfort. SmartCurve was designed to address this issue, with its signature curved paddle that distributes pressure more evenly over the breast, lessening the force of compression while maximizing comfort.
The Ergonomics of Comfort
The development of the curved paddle evolved from the effectiveness of 3D. There was a persistent struggle to screen areas of the breast that are thinner, which results in over-compression. Through a collaboration with Hologic, a medical technology innovator, we developed a curved surface to aid in compression effectiveness and to simultaneously improve comfort. Many women feel pain during standard flat paddle mammograms because of the required pressure against the chest wall. Molded to fit the curve of a woman’s breast, SmartCurve reduces discomfort. Research has shown that 93% of patients who experienced discomfort during standard compression reported improved comfort.3
Two Technologies are Better Than One
Independently, both 3D mammography and SmartCurve represent substantial improvements. But when integrated into a single screening platform, they represent the unification of the gold standard in accuracy with a clinically proven solution for greater comfort. This unification results in a better, more accurate mammogram and an improved experience for the patient.
1 Rose, Stephen L., et al. “Implementation of Breast Tomosynthesis in a Routine Screening Practice: An Observational Study.” American Journal of Roentgenology, vol. 200, no. 6, 2013, pp. 1401-1408., doi:10.2214/ajr.12.9672.
2 Rose, Stephen L. Tomosynthesis Impact on Screening Patients 40 to 49. RSNA November 2016.
3 Smith, A. Improving Patient Comfort in Mammography. Hologic WP-00019 Rev 001 (2017).