To support cancer prevention and women’s health, philanthropist and businesswoman Tatiana Copeland has given a generous gift of $800,000 to fund two breast tomosynthesis — or 3-D mammography — units at the Helen F. Graham Cancer Center & Research Institute at Christiana Care Health System to provide clearer, more precise mammograms.
“Uncertain mammogram results can be terrifying,” said Copeland, a breast cancer survivor who received her treatment at Graham Cancer Center. “Tomosynthesis can alleviate avoidable scares and take the Graham Cancer Center’s already outstanding Breast Center to a new level.”
According to the American Cancer Society, across the U.S. one in eight women will face breast cancer at some point in their lives. In Delaware this year, doctors will detect 780 new cases. For women across the state, the Breast Center, the only facility in the region devoted exclusively to breast care, diagnosis and treatment, becomes a trusted ally in early detection screenings and post-diagnosis treatment.
The Breast Center is one of the first facilities in the U.S. to offer tomosynthesis. From a patient’s perspective, nothing on the surface has changed. The procedure uses the same equipment as conventional 2-D mammograms. But unseen to the patient is a new world of imaging that can ultimately be life-changing for all women.
“Numerous well-run clinical trials have shown that tomosynthesis detects an additional one to four breast cancers per 1,000 women screened, and decreases recalls for repeat mammograms and biopsies by 15 percent,” said Diana Dickson-Witmer, M.D., FACS, medical director of the Breast Center. “This enables us to better find cancer and to make a more accurate diagnosis, while doing fewer biopsies.”
Dr. Dickson-Witmer is the senior author of an article published in the Annals of Surgical Oncology, October 2016, outlining an evidenced-based approach to counseling and screening patients with dense breasts. While 2-D mammography is still standard, women who have had breast cancer or who have dense breasts can particularly benefit from tomosynthesis, she said. The 3-D technology creates multiple, layered images of a breast from different viewpoints. Radiologists can look at the breast one millimeter at a time and see through dense breast tissue that is often hard to read in conventional mammograms.
“What has been game-changing with tomosynthesis is that we don’t have as many false positives, meaning we don’t have to call women back for nerve-wracking tests and biopsies,” said Jacqueline Holt, M.D., chief of breast imaging at Christiana Care. “Since we added this new technology, we decreased our call-back rate by close to 45 percent and our biopsy rate by 33 percent. We’ve spared many women unnecessary anxiety, missed work and lost wages. It’s the immediate impact Mrs. Copeland looked to make with her generous gift.”