Stereo Mammograms

June 9, 2008 12:00:00 AM PDT
Doctors agree the mammogram is one of the best defenses against breast cancer. A new tool could make the test even more effective.When Doctor Carl D'Orsi puts on his pair of special polarized glasses, he sees mammograms in a way they've never been seen before. "It's sort of a 'wow' factor when you first look at it."

He's the first doctor in the U.S. to test a new diagnostic tool called stereoscopic digital mammography. Instead of seeing a mammogram as a flat picture, this technique fuses two images to show the breast in 3 dimensions. Polarized glasses bring the images together.

"All of a sudden, you have depth. All of a sudden, you can tell what's behind something, what's in front of something, what depth something is at. Its like, 'oh my god', this is like I'm seeing the world," said Dr. D'Orsi. "On a view like this, it's a lot more difficult to say that's probably nothing, but when I look at the fused images I can see they're at different depths."

In a three-year study, stereo mammography found more abnormalities and reduced false positive test results by 39% percent compared to standard mammograms. Stereo also had 79% percent accuracy, while standard mammograms had 57% percent.

Dr. D'Orsi says this diagnostic tool means quicker diagnosis, less recalls for more testing and less anxiety.

Marilyn Cook knows mammograms all too well and what the waiting and worrying can be like. "If they can prevent other women from having to be recalled, you know, for a second one and a third one and ultrasound, what an amazing process is that?"

Marilyn was lucky. A mammogram led to early diagnosis and treatment of her breast cancer. Now she worries about her daughter's future and hopes breakthroughs like stereo mammography can mean more success stories like her own. "Two years and a couple of months cancer free. Survivor. I'm a survivor."


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