New breast imaging technology that radiologists say can detect breast cancers earlier and more accurately has been introduced this summer at two facilities in greater Oklahoma City.
Called “breast tomosynthesis,” the technology uses high-powered computing to convert multiple digital breast images into a stack of one-millimeter layers to build essentially a three-dimensional mammogram. Adding only a few seconds to traditional two-dimensional — or lateral and vertical — imaging of the breast, the latest technology includes an additional 180-degree sweep by an X-ray arm.
Like a CAT (computed axial tomography) scan of the breast, tomosynthesis allows doctors to pick up 20 percent to 25 percent more cancers, said Larry Killebrew, medical director and one of four radiologists with The Oklahoma Breast Care Center, which began offering it June 18 at 13509 N Meridian Ave.
Killebrew compares the technology to a 3-D image of a loaf of raisin bread, with the ability for doctors to scroll through and pick up raisins, or micro calcifications, in each layer or slice.
“If we detect cancers when they're small, dime-sized or smaller, there's a 97 percent cure rate,” Killebrew said.
The new technology, he said, is especially helpful for women with dense, or soft tissue, including young women before their milk ducts shrink. If cancers are overlaid by dense tissues above or below, they're more difficult to spot on traditional 2D images, he said.
Since it opened last week, Comprehensive Diagnostic Imaging at 5800 N Portland Ave. has performed 15 3-D mammograms, said Charles Mooney, chief executive.
His company employs six — including his wife, radiologist and medical director Jill Hast — and will offer complete imaging, including magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), CT scans, ultrasound and 3 Tesla MRI breast imaging, Mooney said.
The Breast Center in Lawton, a nonprofit organization established by the Junior League in 1969, was among the first 10 facilities nationally to offer tomosynthesis, when it launched the new technology in June 2011, spokeswoman Marcella Ivins said.
“All our profits go back into the organization, so anything new and effective, we're the first to get it,” Ivins said.
Bedford, Mass.-based Hologic offers the only tomosynthesis equipment approved by the Food and Drug and Administration, spokesman Jim Culley said.
Since February 2011, providers in 46 states have bought the equipment, which lists for $490,000 with MDBuyline hospital purchasing group, he said.
Hologic expects to have some 300 systems installed by the end of the third quarter, Culley said.
The 3-D technology exposes the patient to more radiation, but it is within FDA mammography guidelines.
Patients who choose it at the Oklahoma Breast Care Center will have to pay a $49 out-of-pocket expense.
Did you know?
Breast cancer strikes one in eight women, and kills more than 38,000 women every year in America. Experts recommend women 40 and older get annual mammograms, though only 55 percent of Oklahoma women comply.
To find 3-D mammography nearest you, visit