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Member Research and Reports

Member Research and Reports

Yale: Study Finds More Women in U.S. Receive 3-D Mammography But Disparities Remain

Use of 3-D mammography, an advanced form of breast cancer screening, has risen rapidly in recent years, according to Yale researchers in a new study. But adoption of the technology varies widely, reflecting emerging disparities in care, they said. The study was published in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine.

Three-D mammography is also commonly called digital breast tomosynthesis, or DBT. The technology combines low-dose X-rays with software that creates a 3-D image of the breast. Compared to 2-D mammography, DBT may make it easier for radiologists to detect an abnormality. Yet DBT has not been widely endorsed for routine breast cancer screening. Organizations like the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force and the American Cancer Society, which provide guidance to clinicians about cancer screening, have not made recommendations for or against the routine use of DBT.

To assess the extent of DBT use nationwide, the Yale team examined claims data from private health insurance plans. Their investigation included more than 9 million screening exams performed over three years. They also compared DBT use with privately insured versus Medicare-insured patients.

The researchers found that DBT use rose substantially, from 12.9 percent to 43.2 percent of screening exams between 2015 and 2017. 

Researchers observed that adoption of DBT varied greatly by region and demographics. Use of the technology grew more quickly in the Northeast and Northwest but more slowly in the Southeast. DBT was more rapidly adopted in areas with higher incomes, greater education, and larger white populations, they said. Yale authors are from the Yale School of Public Health.

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