Local clinic uses technology to detect cancer early

Patricia Taylor opted to have a 3D mammogram at the last second—a decision she's very grateful for now.

“Definitely saved my life—definitely,” Taylor said.

The mammogram revealed a seven-millimeter tumor in her breast that turned out to be cancerous.

Dr. Julianne Greenberg says the tumor is obvious on a 3D mammogram—but, blends in on a 2D mammogram, where it could have gone undetected for years.

“Looking at it 2D it doesn't really look must different than this or this or this,” Greenberg said.

“It's amazing that this imaging picks up something so small,” Taylor said.

Since the Washington Radiology Associates began using 3D mammograms last year, Dr. Greenberg says breast cancer detection, especially for small cancers like Taylor's, has significantly increased.

“We can find these really early cancers that are curable early diagnosis breast cancers and that means everything for a patient,” said Greenberg, who is the Director of Breast Imaging.

The 3D image is formed after the machine moves side to side taking an x-ray of every millimeter of the breast. This allows doctors to scroll through every layer of a suspicious-looking area to see if there is a tumor—or just overlapping tissue. As a result, Dr. Greenberg says the number of patient call-backs has dropped drastically.

“We've decreased that number by about 30-35 percent,” Greenberg said.

Taylor is now nearly done with her cancer treatment—and says she's incredibly fortunate.

“This was a wake-up call for me… not only did it save me but I really realized my god, breast cancer, I've got to take care of myself,” Taylor said.

A 3D mammogram exposes patients to more radiation than a 2D mammogram, but doctors say it's a safe amount. Patients who opt for the annual 3D must pay $50—because it's not yet covered by insurance.