Digital Breast Tomosynthesis

Importance of Screening Mammograms and Introducing of Digital Breast Tomosynthesis

by Dr Wenus Ho
Friday, November 22, 2019


Breast Cancer is the most common cancer amongst women in the world and the disease is on the rise.  It affects approximately 1 in 11 females in their lifetime.

Based on data from Singapore Cancer Registry, 9,634 new cases of breast cancer were diagnosed between 2011 to 2015.  This accounted for 29.1% of all diagnosed cancers in Singapore females, meaning nearly 1 in 3 cancers diagnosed were due to breast cancer.  Breast cancer has also been the number 1 cause of cancer mortality with the greatest number of deaths amongst all diagnosed cancers in women.

If detected in the early stages, curative treatment can be undertaken which greatly improves the survival rates of patients with breast cancer.

What is a Mammogram?

A mammogram is, essentially, an X-Ray of the breast.  By compressing the breasts between the plates on the mammography machine, it is able to capture a Two-Dimensional Image of the breasts with any underlying abnormalities within.  It does not prevent cancer but makes early detection and early intervention possible, thus saving lives.

However, no radiological examination is perfect and the mammogram is no different.  Normal breast tissue, especially in females with denser breasts, can “obscure” or “hide” a breast cancer.   Sometimes, an abnormality that looks like cancer may be picked up, but on further investigations, it turns out to be normal.

Hence, doctors still emphasize on the need for regular Breast Self Examinations, regular breast screening mammograms to improve early detection rates for Breast Cancer.

In addition, sometimes, additional imaging like Ultrasounds, MRIs and now Tomosynthesis can be used to further improve the sensitivity of breast cancer screening.

Introducing Digital Breast Tomosynthesis

Digital Breast Tomosynthesis, also known as 3D Mammography creates a 3D picture of the breast using XRays, rather than a 2D image.  The machine achieves this by moving in an arc around the breast during the process and taking images from multiple angles.  These images are then transmitted to a computer which assembles these data to produce a 3D image of the breast.

In essence, traditional mammography takes a single “picture” of one’s breast by compressing a 3D object into a 2D representation while tomosynthesis aims to reproduce the 3D image of the breasts.

There is still an ongoing debate and ongoing medical studies on whether detection rates for tomosynthesis is superior to conventional 2D mammography, but so far, results are encouraging and there are centres overseas that are adopting tomosynthesis more.

Digital Breast Tomosynthesis is now available at Fusion Medical

Fusion Medical is able to perform both 2D mammography and 3D tomosynthesis in one sitting without having to repeat the imaging on a separate occasion.


Breast Cancer is the number 1 cancer in females all over the world.  The importance of monthly breast self-examination, regular breast screening with your family physician cannot be overemphasized.  With early detection, early treatment can be instituted and these can be life-saving.  Call us to discuss about your screening options today.

Fusion Medical.  Your Health, Our Commitment.