3D mammograms now offered in the Valley

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Many women in the Valley now have access to the latest innovation in the fight against breast cancer.

Last month, a new study on 3d mammograms, made national news. And now, some Valley hospitals and imaging centers are offering the state-of-the art technology.

Ruth McClendon greets staff members as her friends at the Saint Agnes Breast Center in Northeast Fresno, as they help her fight breast cancer. The retired Fresno teacher said after years of regular mammograms and a few biopsies that were benign, doctors called her with the heart-dropping diagnosis.

Since Ruth has dense breast tissue, she had the new 3D mammogram -- also called Tomosynthesis. "The doctors all felt that, if we hadn't done the 3D, it probably would have gone undetected for another year or two," said McClendon.

In a video provided by Hologic, the maker of the 3D mammogram machine, patients undergo the same procedure as a regular 2D mammogram. But the machine's movement allows it to take both 2D and 3D images. Radiologists at Saint Agnes then use the 3D image to see every layer of the breast instead of just a flat image.

There is a startling difference in the 3D mammogram as separate images appear showing tissue, blood vessels, and at times, a suspicious spot.

3D mammography is recommended for women with dense breast tissue, because that kind of tissue can obscure cancer. And doctors say when 3D imaging is combined with the 2D process it can result in much higher cancer detection rates.

"When you're having a mammogram every year, the changes that the doctors are looking for, are minute. And any change on the mammogram, the doctor will catch it, they will call the patient back," said Angie Landecho, Mammography Technologsist.

But some doctors and hospitals say 3D mammography hasn't been around long enough to determine if it saves lives or misses tumors. Dr. Susan Kutner, chair of Kaiser Permanente's Breast Care Task Force said at this time there is insufficient data to support 3D mammography as a routine for breast cancer screening.

But Ruth is convinced it saved her life, and now she tells family and friends to go 3D.
Copyright © 2020 KFSN-TV. All Rights Reserved.