Use of Digital Breast Tomosynthesis in Cancer Screening

December 12, 2016

Radiologists are using DBT for breast cancer screening, but it still is a limited resource.

Digital breast tomosynthesis (DBT) is becoming more common but remains a limited resource, according to a study published in the Journal of the American College of Radiology.

Researchers from the University of Colorado Denver in Aurora assessed the utilization of DBT and the criteria for offering DBT to patients. The researchers distributed an online survey for physician members of the Society of Breast Imaging to assess their use of DBT. The questions covered availability of DBT at the participant's practice, whether DBT was used for clinical care or research, clinical decision rules guiding patient selection for DBT, costs associated with DBT, plans to obtain DBT, and breast imaging practice characteristics.

The results showed a response rate of 37% (670 members); 30% (200 respondents) reported using DBT, with 89% using DBT clinically. Participants were more likely to report DBT use if they worked at an academic practice, a practice with more than three breast imagers, or a practice with seven or more mammography units. Criteria used to select patients to undergo DBT varied:

107 physicians (68.2%) used exam type (screening versus diagnostic)

25 (15.9%) used mammographic density

25 (15.9%) used breast cancer risk

Fees for DBT ranged from $25 to $250. In addition, 62.3% of nonusers planned to obtain DBT.

The researchers concluded that DBT is becoming more common but remains a limited resource. Clinical guidelines would assist practices in deciding whether to adopt DBT and in standardizing which patients should receive DBT.