3D Mammography is FDA Approved and Offers Many Benefits over Traditional Mammograms
There have been rumors in the healthcare industry that insurance carriers would finally start to cover tomosynthesis (3D mammograms), in addition to traditional 2D film or digital mammograms. Unfortunately, we have yet to see these rumors come to fruition, at least not on a widespread basis.
To date, most insurers refuse to pay for a patient’s 3D mammogram, citing reasons such as the technology is “too new,” “unproven,” or “not medically necessary.” At the Center for Diagnostic Imaging in Miami, we strongly disagree with this rationale and believe it is time for insurers to step up and start providing coverage for 3D mammography. Here is why:
1. Tomosynthesis provides earlier and easier breast cancer detection. A traditional mammogram provides only two dimensional views of breast tissue in a flat image. The tissue often appears overlapped, making it difficult to see all the individual internal structures. 3D mammography solves this problem by allowing radiologists to better see the structures and tissues of the breast. It is 40 percent more sensitive than a 2D mammogram, so it is better at detecting small cancers, multiple abnormalities, and the exact size, shape and location of possible cancers. This is particularly beneficial for women with dense breast tissue or for those at high risk for breast cancer.
2. 3D mammography results in fewer false positives. Traditional mammograms often identify questionable areas of the breast that require additional diagnostic tests in order to identify or rule out cancer. Using a 3D mammogram to view the breast tissue in smaller, thinner sections prevents radiologists from having to call patients back for a “second look.” This saves time and keeps patients from agonizing over false alarms.
3. 3D mammograms are FDA approved. The FDA approved 3D mammography in 2011, and it is now available throughout the U.S.
4. Tomosynthesis is not new. In fact, it has been around for several decades. Some variants of tomosynthesis imaging were developed as early as the 1970s and 1980s, so it should not be considered a “new” imaging technology.
At the Center for Diagnostic Imaging, we believe so strongly in the benefits of 3D mammography that we became the first imaging center in South Florida to offer the technology for breast cancer screening. We urge all health insurance companies to reconsider their stand on tomosynthesis and finally provide coverage for this important, lifesaving test.