3D mammography services coming to Hilo in August

Big Island women will have better access to superior cancer-detecting technology in August after Hawaii Radiologic Associates begins offering 3D mammography services.

Digital breast tomosynthesis, better known as 3D mammography, is an improved method of breast cancer screening over traditional 2D mammograms that has been found to be 25% more effective at detecting cancers and less likely to produce false-positive results.

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Currently, there is no 3D mammography service offered on the Big Island. But on Aug. 1, Hawaii Radiologic Associates will open its tomosynthesis service at its Hilo location.

Radiologist Scott Grosskreutz said the technology is better at detecting cancerous tissue that is “hiding behind” healthy tissue, and is particularly helpful for women with denser breast tissue.

Grosskreutz, who founded the Hawaii Breast Society, said people of Asian heritage — nearly 40% of Hawaii’s population, according to the U.S. Census Bureau — are statistically more likely to have denser breast tissue, which can make detecting breast cancer more difficult, and can contract breast cancer earlier.

Hawaii had the 10th-highest rate of breast cancer cases in the country in 2016, according to the Center for Disease Control. Grosskreutz said the American Cancer Society estimates that 1,280 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer this year.

Grosskreutz said the new 3D mammography program is well-timed, as the Hawaii Medical Service Association recently added digital breast tomosynthesis to its coverage. With the technology more accessible to Big Island residents than ever, Grosskreutz urged women to make regular appointments for screening.

“Don’t wait until your 50s,” Grosskreutz said. Indeed, nearly a quarter of new female breast cancer cases in 2017 were among women less than 50 years old, according to the American Cancer Society.

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While statistically men are far less likely to develop breast cancer than women, the 3D mammography service will also be available to men.

Email Michael Brestovansky at mbrestovansky@hawaiitribune-herald.com.

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