3D mammogram spots tumors never seen before

Capital Region Medical Center now uses 3D mammogram machines for breast cancer screenings.

Mammograms have been the standard screening for breast cancer for decades, but now there's something added that's helping doctors get an even better look and it's new to Jefferson City at Capital Region Medical Center.

Barb Kalberloh is thankful for her physicians and for the new 3D mammography also known as tomosynthesis.

The detailed pictures found her cancer when it was very small.

She's had surgery but will not need radiation or chemotherapy in her recovery.

Mammographer Kari Fischer explains how the new machine works. â??This head will rotate side to side and as it does that it actually takes different slices of the breast tissue and then it reconstructs it to make one three-dimensional image.â??

Fischer says it's like taking a flat square image and making it into a 3 dimensional cube.

Women probably won't see much of a difference between this new 3-D mammogram machine and the previous one, although it is larger, takes a few seconds longer, and you will be asked to hold your breath twice while each picture is taken. The real difference is in the results.

Interpreting the new images takes much longer for radiologist Dr. Dennis Leutkemeyer.

â??In the past a typical mammographic set of films has been four films and now essentially each one of those has become 40 to 60 images. So our amount of work is going up dramatically, but I think the payoff is certainly worth it.â??

The payoff is finding cancers in their early stages, like the one he found in Kalberloh's left breast, a spot never seen before.

Leutkemeyer says the pictures are especially helpful in diagnosing early cancers in young women with dense breasts.

â??I know with absolute certainty that we are finding cancers that we otherwise would not have,â?? says Leutkemeyer.

In addition to Capital Region, Boone Hospital Center, Ellis Fischel Cancer Center and MU Women's and Children's Hospital use 3D mammogram machines.