Mills-Peninsula Health Blog

Be Well, Be Well Informed

3D Mammography Gives a Closer Look

Posted on Oct 13, 2015 in Cancer


It had been about 18 months since Susan Gray, a busy attorney in San Francisco, had her last mammogram. She knew the recommendation; starting at age 40, women should be screened annually for breast cancer. As it turned out, Gray’s visit to the Mills-Peninsula Women’s Center in May 2014 came at just the right time.

Susan Gray

Susan Gray

Using the newly installed digital breast tomosynthesis technology, also known as 3D mammography, Harriet Borofsky, M.D., medical director of the Mills-Peninsula Women’s Center, found an aggressive breast tumor that would likely have gone undetected with traditional mammography.

Between January and April of 2014 the Women’s Center at Mills-Peninsula installed five new tomosynthesis machines, funded by generous donors in the community. Tomosynthesis is similar to a traditional mammogram, except it moves in an arc over the breast, taking multiple low-dose X-rays from different angles to create a three-dimensional view of breast tissue. The tomographic (or cross-sectional) images are reconstructed in very thin layers that radiologists can examine, one layer at a time, like a CT scan.

Harriet Borofsky, M.D.

Harriet Borofsky, M.D.

“This technology is quite simply the most important and impactful tool I’ve come across in my professional career,” Dr. Borofsky says. “I’m finding cancers that traditional mammography would have missed, and our call back rate for secondary testing has decreased by 24 percent.”

A Compassionate Environment
Gray’s treatment spanned more than one year and included two surgeries, chemotherapy, the breast cancer drug herceptin and six weeks of radiation. She found everything about the Women’s Center to be caring, compassionate and personal.

“Everything moved seamlessly from one phase to the next and I felt I was getting tremendous care,” Gray says. “I never felt lost in the system and I truly felt everyone was working together on my behalf.”

A Gift to the Community
Since its inception, the Women’s Center has offered breast health education, screening, and treatment for uninsured and underinsured women in San Mateo County, providing complimentary mammograms and other services to more than 5,000 women through its Community Mammogram Program. 3D mammography will help ensure that every woman in our community has access to high-quality imaging services that are able to catch breast cancer at it earliest inception, when it is most easily treated.

“3D mammography and Dr. Borofsky saved my life,” Gray says. She encourages women to get screened annually and “to seek out this technology, especially if you are in any high risk group.”