Digital breast tomosynthesis (3D mammography) for breast cancer screening and for assessment of screen-recalled findings: review of the evidence

Introduction: Digital breast tomosynthesis (DBT) addresses some of the limitations of digital mammography (DM) by reducing the effect of overlapping tissue. Emerging data have shown that DBT increases breast cancer (BC) detection and reduces recall in BC screening programs. Studies have also suggested that DBT improves assessment of screen-recalled findings.

Areas covered: Studies of DBT for population BC screening and those for assessment of screen-detected findings were reviewed to provide an up-to-date summary of the evidence on DBT in the screening setting. A systematic literature search was conducted for each of the topics; study-specific information and/or quantitative data on detection or accuracy were extracted and collated in tables.

Expert commentary: The evidence on DBT for BC screening reinforces that DBT integrated with DM increases cancer detection rates compared to DM alone, although the extent of improved detection varied between studies. The effect of DBT on recall rates was heterogeneous with substantial reductions evident noticeably in retrospective comparative studies. The evidence on DBT for workup was sparse and those studies had limitations related to design and methods. Even though the majority showed improved specificity using DBT compared with conventional imaging, there was little evidence on how DBT impacts assessment outcomes.