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DBT may offer better survival outcomes than DM for breast cancer patients

por John R. Fischer, Senior Reporter | December 08, 2020
Women's Health
Digital breast tomosynthesis may lead to better survival outcomes for patients than digital mammography
Digital breast tomosynthesis may result in better survival outcomes for patients than digital mammography, says a new study.

"Our results build on past studies that have shown that DBT improves performance outcomes for breast cancer screening. With DBT, we show we are detecting more invasive cancers, but they are cancers with favorable prognostic criteria, which means these patients would have more treatment options,” said study lead author Dr. Melissa Durand, associate professor of diagnostic radiology and biomedical imaging at Yale University School of Medicine and Smilow Cancer Hospital, in a statement.

While DBT has been proved to detect cancer more effectively than DM, its impact on patient survival has not been established.

Durant and her colleagues compared the performance of both in a set of 380,000 screening examinations. They found DBT improved sensitivity and specificity for breast cancer and identified more invasive cancers with fewer nodal or distant metastases.

It also had lower rates for overall false negatives for cancers detected within a year of a normal mammogram and symptomatic false negatives. This, according to the researchers, would be a positive finding, as false negative cancers are usually more aggressive than screen-detected ones and a reduction in them may in turn decrease longer-term screening outcomes such as advanced disease or death.

Another advantage seen was significantly lower recall rates in both heterogeneously dense breasts and extremely dense breasts for those who underwent DBT versus DM.

"With women who have extremely dense breasts, the cancer detection was higher, but not significantly so, which makes sense," said Durand. "You need a bit of fat to provide contrast to the fibroglandular tissue in order to detect abnormalities, whether you are using DBT or digital mammography. This highlights a group of women who would benefit from supplementary screening."

The findings were published in Radiology.

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