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John Muir Health debuts breast cancer screening technology

In its continuing battle against breast cancer, John Muir Health Walnut Creek now offers Digital Breast Tomosynthesis (DBT) to all of its patients.

DBT’s revolutionary technology provides clearer, 3D images of lesions by reducing or eliminating the tissue overlap that occurs with 2D mammography. This advanced screening technique is clinically proven to detect 41 percent more invasive cancers, as well as significantly increase the Positive Predictive Value for recalls (49 percent) and biopsy (21 percent).

DBT provides greater accuracy in pinpointing size, shape and location of abnormalities, as well as significantly reducing unnecessary biopsies and recall rates. According to Karen Connolly, Manager of Breast Imaging Services at John Muir Health, DBT ultimately decreases patient anxiety by enabling doctors to be more thorough when searching for lesions and tumors.

"Conventional digital mammography produces one image of overlapping tissue, making it difficult to detect cancers," says Connolly. "DBT takes multiple images of the entire breast. This allows our specialized breast radiologists to see through layers of tissue and examine areas of concern from all angles."

While 2D mammography remains the best overall screening procedure for breast cancer detection, its sensitivity is approximately 70 percent for all breast tissue types and only 50 percent for women with denser tissue. Dr. Vivian Wing, MD, Director of Breast Services at John Muir Health, asserts that a 10 percent call back rate is another drawback of traditional mammography methods.

"Tomosynthesis was developed to improve upon [2D mammography’s] limitations, and early feedback appears to be quite encouraging," says Wing. "Institutions that have incorporated tomosynthesis into their practices have seen decreases in the recall rate while at the same time [seen] increases in the cancer detection rate."

Digital Breast Tomosynthesis is available at John Muir Health’s Walnut Creek campus located at 1656 North California Boulevard. Dr. Wing believes that this breakthrough in breast cancer screening is valuable in both screening mammography and diagnostic mammography. Ultimately, Dr. Wing is proud to be a part of John Muir Health’s mission to combat breast cancer in all stages.

"The bottom line is that many women in our community will benefit from this new technology," says Wing. "All of us involved in breast care health very much appreciate the support and commitment of the administration in bringing this new technology to John Muir Health."