Intermountain Medical Center First Hospital in Utah to Offer New 3D Breast Cancer Detection Technology

Jess Gomez or Jennifer Barrett

 801-507-7455 or 801-408-2182


MURRAY, UT (8/25/2011) – Intermountain Medical Center is the first hospital in Utah to offer 3D breast tomosynthesis, a brand new technology that produces dozens of detailed X-ray images of the breast, potentially giving physicians a clearer picture as they look for signs of cancer.

The Breast Care Center at Intermountain Medical Center has been using breast tomosynthesis as one of 30 hospitals nationwide participating in a national clinical trial of the new technology. Intermountain Medical Center participated in the diagnostic arm of the clinical trial, enrolling selected women who were appropriate candidates for the research. The findings contributed in part to the FDA’s decision last spring to approve breast tomosynthesis for hospital use.

“This technology is interesting because it has the potential of reducing false positive mammograms. But it’s also so new that we’re still gathering information to understand what the benefits actually may be for our patients,” said radiologist Brett Parkinson, MD, director of the breast care program at Intermountain Medical Center, and one of only two certified tomosynthesis physician readers in the state of Utah.

“One very important thing to stress is that this technology does not replace traditional mammography,” he said. “We can use the information to supplement an exam, but not to replace it. Women still need to get their mammograms.”

One challenge with traditional 2D mammograms is that tissue inside the breast can overlap during an exam, hiding lesions or making benign areas look suspicious. Breast tomosynthesis works by taking 20 to 70 images of the breast in 1-millimeter “slices,” which can be put together in a single 3D image that gives physicians a better look into the architecture of the breast.

“We don’t have results from large-scale trials of breast tomosynthesis, but this technology may help detect cancer at an earlier stage, decreasing the need for additional testing.” said Dr. Parkinson.

Breast tomography is done during a routine mammogram. No additional instruments are necessary — just a few extra seconds in the exam room. Patients are exposed to a small amount of additional radiation, but within safe limits set by the FDA.

“Breast tomography is an exciting new tool for us to use in detecting breast cancer,” said Dr. Parkinson. “But, at this point, it is not appropriate for all women."

Currently, breast tomosynthesis is available on a limited basis, to be used at the discretion of the breast radiologist at the Breast Care Center at Intermountain Medical Center.

“Until we have more information from large clinical trials, we won’t really know all the benefits of breast tomosynthesis,” said Dianne Kane, director of cancer services at Intermountain Medical Center. “We do know that the FDA has determined the technology to be safe. We plan to further evaluate this promising technology at Intermountain Medical Center in an effort to determine appropriate criteria for its use."

The Breast Care Center at Intermountain Medical Center is one of the leading breast care programs in the nation and is involved in numerous clinical studies to enhance the breast care provided to patients.

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