Cutting-edge machine improves mammography for patients

Doctors can see a more complete picture of breast tissue

 UPDATED 6:15 AM HST Oct 02, 2012
Cancer detecting technology
AIEA, Hawaii -

In the fight against breast cancer, timing is everything.  There's a device that could help some women avoid unnecessary trips back to the doctor's office.

Radiologist Greg Dunn will tell you early detection can be the difference between life and death.

For doctors trying to detect cancer, large breasts can be a challenge.  That's where a cutting-edge $400,000 tomosynthesis machine comes in.

"Most beneficial for people with dense breasts," said Dunn.

It looks like a normal mammography machine, but what makes it different is that its camera moves 15 degrees from above and takes an image at each angle.

The multiple images are then converted into a three-dimensional image for radiologists to see.

"The overlapping tissues will melt away or blend out of picture whereas a true mast will stay right there," said Dunn.

The final product is a more complete picture of the breast tissue.

But this new technology is not a cure-all.

"It's not a super magic identifier like if used all breast cancer is found," said Dunn.  "But it is a tool that improves mammography for patients."

Doctors at Pali Momi Medical Center's Women's Center say there is more exposure to radiation for tomosynthesis.  It's the equivalent of getting two mammograms instead of one.  They recommend you ask your doctor if tomosynthesis is right for you.

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